European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara has stressed the need for product diversity and more value-addition to exploit the full potential of market access to the countries under the GSP Plus regime.
During a meeting held with All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) President Syed Maaz Mahmood and General Secretary Khurram Niaz Khan on Wednesday, both the sides discussed technical education, skills development, EU support for Pakistan in technical and vocational education and training, women entrepreneurship and role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for economic growth.
The ambassador discussed various ideas for providing support to the freelancers in the IT sector, handicraft and tourism, with the focus on creating linkages within the EU to open new markets for the products.
The APBF and the EU agreed to work on women entrepreneurship, better labour laws, promotion of SME sector, freelancers IT resource along with other projects. Kaminara was of the view that the EU is the biggest export market for Pakistani goods, as it accounts for about one-third of all Pakistani exports.
The ambassador said, “The European Union fully backed Pakistan’s efforts to overcome the socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and build back better for a more sustainable future.”
She stated that the EU-Pakistan bilateral relations received a major boost when the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) was signed in June 2019, to further enhance engagement between the two sides, and address emerging global challenges.
The envoy mentioned that during 2014-2020 the grants provided to Pakistan amounted to over €600 million, focusing on rural development, education and vocational training and human rights etc.
She said the EU can assist Pakistan to expand its exports and uplift its industry through collaboration with the APBF by launching joint ventures in various sectors. The ambassador suggested that Pakistan can make more progress by putting in best efforts for skilled workforce development and EU can also take some positive step to support it.
Speaking on the occasion, APBF president said the EU countries have been the most important trading partners of Pakistan, accounting for almost 33% of Pakistan’s total exports, which is encouraging, as the trade figures with the EU countries have been going upwards.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2020.