PESHAWAR: Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara has said Pakistan’s exports to the EU market have increased by 33 per cent, mostly in the textile sector, since it got the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status in late 2013.

“There is a huge potential for the export of Pakistani fresh fruits and food items to the EU markets,” she told members of the business community at the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Monday.

According to a statement issued here, the envoy, while referring to the EU Review Report, 2020, said Pakistan had signed 27 conventions in different sectors and improvement was seen on some of them, including human rights, development of transgender persons, and journalist protection.

She said the government spent two years for legislation on the protection of journalists, while exercise was under way to legislate on missing persons, torture, blasphemy and factory inspections.

Ms Kaminara said she was hopeful that Pakistani government would further expedite the legislation process and reforms as part of the EU conventions.

Sees huge export potential for fresh fruits, food items

She said after every two year, the EU would review progress on reforms and implementation of conventions and if the country was found to be not fully abiding by obligations, the special trade incentives like GSP Plus status would be withdrawn immediately.

The ambassador, however, said the 2020 Review Report showed that Pakistan had gained significant improvement in certain areas but a lot of work needed to be done in other sectors as well.

She said she hoped that Pakistan would accelerate reforms and legislation process by fully adhering to the EU commitments.

The envoy said the EU-Pakistan Business Council would be formed to cement trade and economic ties.

She invited the province’s business community to associate itself with the council.

Ms Kaminara said the potential of KP’s gems, jewellery, mining, tourism and handicraft sectors needed to be tapped in an efficient manner.

She said the EU had visible intervention in refugee relief, rehabilitation and development and steps were being taken for the facilitation and relief of Afghan refugees.

The envoy said the EU, in partnership with German GIZ, had conducted skill training programmes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the erstwhile Fata and carried out interventions regarding reforms in the affairs of the police and counter-terrorism department and women parliamentarians.

Earlier, SCCI president Sherbaz Bilour highlighted the province’s investment potential and said the chamber would offer full cooperation for the implementation of all relevant EU conventions to reap the GSP Plus status benefits in an efficient manner and thus, securing a duty- free access of Pakistani products to the European market.

He said the EU market was one of the priority export destinations for Pakistan.

The SCCI chief urged the government to ensure implementation of all conventions to further enhance the country’s exports to the EU market.

He asked the EU to help out the province in handling terrorism, extremism and pandemic-induced business crisis.

Former FPCCI presidents Ghazanfar Bilour and Zahidullah Shinwari and other speakers said huge potential was available for investment in KP’s natural resources, including gems and jewellery, marble, hydropower, honey, olive and mining sectors.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2021

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