Pakistan must strike a comprehensive trade deal with the United Kingdom so as to not only sustain but also enhance its exports to one of its traditional trade partner that has decided to exit European Union.
Chairman Businessmen Panel (BMP) Mian Anjum Nisar, said at a point of time when Great Britain is parting its ways with the European Union (EU), consequently also depriving Pakistan of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status, concerned authorities ought to adopt adequate measures and buffer the associated implications.
“The GSP Plus status that allows our exports at zero or reduced duty rates to European markets may not remain valid after 2019 in the UK,” he said in reply to a query. The senior businessman emphasized that Pakistan must look for a free trade agreement or a package similar to the GSP Plus, that may keep all the trade incentives in place.
“It is crucial to determine the pattern of imports into the UK from Pakistan as it was the third largest export destination for Pakistan in 2016,” said Mian Anjum Nisar.
Mentioning that UK and the EU are a major market for the value-added consumer goods exported from Pakistan, he warned that any restructuring of trade between Pakistan and the UK can have an adverse impact on value-added exports.
To another query, he did acknowledge that the UK had played an important role in the award of GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the EU in 2014. The BMP chief reminded that with more than 200 million consumers Pakistan itself is an exciting market for UK and that the latter has also expressed its desire to become a key partner in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Britain's inclination towards the project proves that CPEC was not restricted only to Pakistan and China, but has a greater regional impact that will promote connectivity in the region and beyond which is a good for us,” said BMP Chief.
Ahmad Jawad, Secretary General (Federal) of BMP said even if the UK government does offer concessions to all developing economies, similar to the GSP and GSP Plus status offered by the EU, the onus of ensuring that incentives lead to expansion in the trading relationship between Pakistan and the UK will primarily rest on Pakistan's policy makers.
“This is so because total exports from Pakistan between 2015 and 2016 fell by 4.3% while exports to the UK declined by 2%,” he said mentioning that UK made imports of $636 billion from all of its trading partners during the given year.
“Jawad further elaborated that Pakistan must ensure a smooth transition in its trading arrangements with UK as it is also a country of global influence and can be an important partner for both China and Pakistan in the delivery of CPEC that holds every potential to build closer links among concerned countries,”