Ambassador of the European Union, Jean Francois Cautain said on Tuesday the decision to continue GSP Plus status to Pakistan would be made on the basis of biannual review during next week by the Parliament of European Union (EU).
Addressing at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI), he said that GSP Plus (Generalize System of Preference) was granted to 10 under developed countries including Pakistan from January 2014. Under the facility, duty free access was accorded to the products of these countries to the European markets, he added.
Cautain said that the scheme was benefited for least developed countries, which was also linked with the implementation of various international agreements, conventions and protocols including women empowerment, child labor, drug trafficking and environmental changes etc.
He said that European Union accounts for 20 percent of Pakistani external trade with Pakistani exports to the European Union amounting to $3.4 billion. It is mainly consistent of textiles, medical equipment and leather products while the European Union exports to Pakistan amounting to $3.4 billion are consist mainly of mechanical and electrical equipment, and chemical and pharmaceutical products, he added.
The ambassador said that biannual review of GSP Plus facility had been completed and European Union commission had submitted its report while European Union parliament would now decide to continue the facility till 2020. However, he was reluctant to comment on the report and said that it would not be fair to pass any comment on it at this moment.
Regarding new five-year strategic engagement plan between Pakistan and European Union, Jean Francois said that first plan had been completed from 2012-17 and a new plan was expected to be finalized during next month. “It will provide a tool to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and European Union with a focused approach on education and human resource development etc., he added.
Responding about industrial phase of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), he said that many European companies were considering to participate in it, which would bring a new FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to Pakistan. “It will have spillover effects over the entire economy of Pakistan”, he remarked.
He said that he was encouraging Business to Business (B2B) meetings to promote bilateral trade between Pakistan and European Union.
Cautain said that security situation in Pakistan have improved considerably yet there was a still room to further improve it to attract foreign investment from EU which would also pave way for fresh foreign investment from the entire world.
Husnain A. Iftakhar, Senior Economist and Trade Officer said that a help desk was available in Embassy of European Union in Islamabad which could provide latest trade related information to the Pakistani exporters.
Earlier, in his welcome address, acting President FCCI Sheikh Farooq Yousaf said that Pakistan was enjoying good diplomatic and economic links with European Union. He also appreciated aid of 700 million Euros for Pakistan by the EU.
Lauding the GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan by European Union, he hoped that the status would be maintained during 2nd review of this facility. He said that European Union was one of the major economic blocks of the world.
He stressed the need for arranging single country exhibitions in different potential markets of European Union on reciprocal basis in order to give a quantum jump to our bilateral trade.
Imran Mahmood, Executive Committee member presented FCCI shield to Ambassador of European Union while Secretary General Abid Masood decorated him and Husnain A. Iftikhar with FCCI pins.