ISLAMABAD: The first-ever EU-Pakistan Business Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises will be launched on September 8 to provide opportunities for bilateral trade enhancement.

The forum — to be launched by the delegation of European Union (EU) to Pakistan — will provide opportunities to enhance the use of Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), bring in new EU investment, encourage European companies to import and promote international sustainability standards.

The GSP+ is a special trading arrangement that provides developing countries preferential access to the European markets by slashing tariffs to zero on most of the products. The countries benefiting from the scheme have to implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance.

The forum aims to assess the impact of Covid-19 on trade under GSP

The forum will also focus on assessing the impact of Covid-19 on trade under GSP and engaging businesses to benefit from the facility.

The EU is Pakistan’s second most important trading partner, accounting for 14.3 per cent of the country’s total trade in 2020 — and absorbing 28pc of Pakistan’s total exports.

Pakistan’s exports to the EU are dominated by textiles and clothing, accounting for 75.2pc of the total exports to the bloc in 2020.

As a result of GSP+, more than 78pc of Pakistan’s exports enter the EU at preferential rates. Around 80pc of the textiles and clothing articles imported to the EU from Pakistan enter the region at a preferential tariff rate. Around a quarter of these imports are bed linen, table linen and toilet and kitchen linen.

The inauguration ceremony of the EU-Pakistan Business Forum is expected to be attended by the representatives of local SMEs from four key sectors including gems, jewellery and mining, information technology, handicrafts and fashion-wear as well as travel and tourism.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2021

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