European Union’s (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara said on Wednesday the Generalised System of Preferences-Plus (GSP+) status granted to Pakistan would end in December next year, after which the continental bloc would review the country’s performance for any extension.
Speaking to the media after the inaugural ceremony of the EU-Pakistan Business Forum, Kaminara praised Pakistan performance regarding implementing the action plan recommended by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Kaminara termed the implementation of 26 out of 27 recommendations of the FATF a great achievement for Pakistan. She expressed the hope that the country would “successfully implement the last point”. She added that the decision to remove Pakistan from grey list would be taken in the next FATF meeting.
She said that Pakistan had the GSP+ status till December 2023 and after that the EU and the European Commission would review Pakistan's progress. “The EU reviews the legal and other issues of each member country and if Pakistan meets the required standards, the GSP+ will be extended,” she added.
“GSP+ status GSP Plus has very positive effects on Pakistan, it has boosted Pakistan's exports to EU by $7.5 billion,” Ambassador Kaminara told reporters. In response to a question, she said that there seemed to be no impediment in the extension in GSP+ status to Pakistan.
Responding to another question, the ambassador noted that the continental bloc had some concerns over the issues related to freedom of expression, enforced disappearances and human rights in Pakistan. She added that Pakistan had been included in the EU list of human rights.
She revealed that she had “interesting discussions” in a meeting with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, in which freedom of expression was discussed. However, she added, “we did not have received any written draft regarding the media, which was under discussion”.
Earlier, the Pakistan-EU Business Forum was launched to promote Pakistan's SME sector at a ceremony. In the first phase, the forum will provide an annual grant of 100 million euros for the development of small and medium-sized businesses.
EU representatives at the event told participants that the forum would inform the SMEs about how to take advantage of the GSP+ facility, including zero-rated duty on certain items. The next meetings of the forum would be held in Lahore and Karachi.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Kaminara said that Pakistan's small and medium enterprises would be able to take full advantage of the wide range of GSP+ concessions. The European Commission will remove hurdles for the Pakistani SMEs and help the, increase their participation in the EU.
The EU ambassador said small and medium-sized businesses would be provided with easy access to credit, technology transfer and elimination of red-tape. “Training and expertise will also be provided to them and we will work with Pakistan on this,” she added.
Meeting with EU
Separately, Ambassador Kaminara called on Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including current situation of Afghanistan and enhanced bilateral cooperation with EU were discussed.
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release, Kaminara appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan situation, including successful evacuation operations, efforts for regional stability and pledged to play their role for further improvements in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.
The ISPR said that Gen Qamar told the EU ambassador that Pakistan valued its relations with the EU countries and earnestly looked forward to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations based on common interests.
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