SALFORT, UK: This is with reference to the news item “Moth-eaten deal: EU trade concessions to transfer little benefit” (July 20). I take an exception to your reporter calling the EU-Pakistan trade deal “moth-eaten”. No trade deal can be perfect but this agreement marks real progress.
Following the devastating floods in 2010, the EU proposed an exceptional package of autonomous trade concessions to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds. These are time-limited but will give communities, particularly those based around the Sindh cotton industry, extra markets as they aim to rebuild their businesses and lives. The EU is a serious player in Pakistan, having committed half a billion euros in humanitarian aid in 2009. The EU is also a major economic partner. The EU-Pakistan trade volume rose to 8.1 billion euros in 2011 (from 19 per cent in 2009), with Pakistan enjoying a one billion euro trade surplus. At present, Pakistan benefits from the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences, which means almost 20 per cent of its exports enter the EU without any tariffs and over 70 per cent enter at a preferential rate.
But even more is being done. A new deal is being prepared in Brussels that might allow Pakistan access to the EU market under a regime that is akin to duty and quota free access for all products from 2014. Both parties are working together to make sure that Pakistan satisfies the criteria, including the implementation of a number of UN labour standards. It is now down to Pakistan to take full advantage of what is being offered. There is progress to be celebrated.
MEP for North West England
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.
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