Way opens for grant of GSP+

Published November 7, 2013
Minister of State for Commerce Engr Khurram Dastagir addressing a press conference in Islamabad.— Photo by Online
Minister of State for Commerce Engr Khurram Dastagir addressing a press conference in Islamabad.— Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Wednesday that the grant of GSP Plus status by the European Union would give Pakistani products, especially textiles, access to additional markets.

Talking to journalists, he said: “We are expecting $700 million to $1 billion additional exports to the EU.”

Pakistan’s exports to EU countries stood at $6 billion last year.

An application for the GSP Plus status was submitted by the caretaker government in March 2013.

The International Trade Committee of European Parliament voted 17-12-1 in Brussels on Tuesday to defeat a resolution of Southern European countries opposing the grant of the status to the newly-selected 10 countries, including Pakistan.

This paved the way for a formal EU decision.

In 2002, the EU had allowed concessionary access to Pakistani products for three years. Since then Pakistan had been pleading its case with the European Community for a fresh relief.

A team of bureaucrats of the commerce ministry and provincial governments put extra efforts in preparing the application along with ensuring timely ratification and implementation of 27 conventions mandatory for qualification for GSP Plus status before the present government came into power.

But the minister of state claimed that the present government had played a decisive role in getting the package. “I personally interacted with parliamentarians to get their support for the EU package.”

Mr Khan said Pakistani high commissioners posted in various European countries and the adviser and special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs had also lobbied approval of the package.

About prospective benefits of the package, he said that 9.6 per cent duty on Pakistani exports would be waived from Jan 1.

The facility is already available to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He said Pakistani products would now become competitive.

The expected surge in exports, the minister said, would create employment opportunities for 100,000 people in domestic industries.

He said investments, especially from China, were expected in the textiles and clothing industry.

Answering a question, he said only four companies had shifted their businesses from Pakistan.

About 250 companies had winded up their operations, but the market access to the EU would help to revive them.

He said Pakistan had exportable surpluses of raw cotton and yarn and semi-processed yarn. “We will provide incentives for value-addition,” he said.

Mr Khan said the biggest challenge for Pakistan would be to translate this opportunity into developing export-oriented industries. “We will start work on it early next year.”

He also said that the EU had not linked abolition of death penalty to the grant of preferential market access.

“There is no connection between the generalised system of preferences plus scheme — preferential trade package and a moratorium on executions.”

The moratorium imposed by the PPP government expired on June 30 and the PML-N government extended it until further orders.

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