ISLAMABAD: Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar held talks with senior officials of the European Commission in Brussels as part of his government’s strategy to further strengthen Pakistan-EU relations, including enhanced parliamentary exchanges.
Ahead of his visit to the European Union (EU), the minister hosted a reception for the EU ambassadors based in Islamabad. Soon after, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif received a telephone call from the President of the European Council Charles Michel.
On March 6, the then prime minister Imran Khan lashed out at the EU ambassadors’ ‘undiplomatic’ statement, wanting Pakistan to condemn Russia for Ukraine’s invasion. The EU ambassadors wanted Islamabad to condemn the Russian invasion, which, according to Mr Khan was state policy.
The visit of Mr Khan to Russia, followed by abstentions on UN votes on the Russian invasion, has caused uneasiness in major European capitals, particularly in Berlin, the second biggest market for Pakistani exports. The new government, soon after coming into power, initiated diplomatic efforts to repair the relationship with the EU.
An official announcement said Mr Qamar will also be visiting other major EU capitals, including Berlin, The Hague, and Paris. The commerce minister held meetings with key members of the European Parliament, senior officials at the European Commission and the Secretary of State for the Brussels region Pascal Smet.
He emphasised that strong trade and investment cooperation were important components of the Pakistan-EU strategic partnership.
He added that economic stabilisation and growth were the key priorities of the current government and the EU remained a key partner for Pakistan to realise these objectives. Mr Qamar highlighted that the GSP Plus was an excellent template and a success story of mutually beneficial cooperation, as Pakistan’s exports to the EU increased by 86 per cent and the EU’s exports to Pakistan grew by 69pc, since the inception of the scheme in 2014.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022