The European Union (EU) on Wednesday encouraged Pakistani small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to exploit the bloc’s single market opportunities, as part of its efforts to support local firms and maximise the GSP+ benefits.
To boost this initiative, the bloc organised the EU-Pakistan Business Forum for SMEs in Lahore.
“The EU-Pakistan Business Forum aims to provide opportunities for both EU and Pakistani businesses to work together to become engines of development and partnership and contribute to enhancing bilateral trade,” according to a statement.
The event was attended by representatives from the government, EU member states and local SMEs from four broad sectors – fans, auto parts, light engineering; rice, fruits and dairy; sports and surgical goods; hosiery, garments, value-added textile and leather.
Speakers focused on SMEs importance and their role in value addition. They informed participants about how SMEs could benefit from the EU’s GSP+ scheme, providing two-thirds of tariff lines duty-free access to the EU market with the rest on preferential duties.
“The Pakistani economy consists of almost 3.3 million SMEs. These consist of service providers, manufacturing units and start-ups. SMEs make up over 30 per cent of Pakistan’s GDP, account for approximately 25% of export generation and provide over 70% industrial employment,” it read.
While in the EU, Europe’s 25 million SMEs are the backbone of the EU economy. SMEs provide two out of three industrial jobs in the EU.
“The Business Forum aims to play a key role in bringing together SMEs from EU and Pakistan to enhance their export orientation, collaboration in technology transfer and promotion of businesses,” it added.
EU Ambassador Androulla Kaminara said: “In Lahore, we have managed to bring together SMEs working in diverse sectors from across Punjab. This diverse range of products, which are covered under GSP+, represents a huge opportunity for Pakistani SMEs to allow them to fully benefit from GSP+ to boost trade and strengthen bilateral trade for a prosperous Pakistan.”
Through this forum, she added that the bloc was trying to help create linkages between EU and Pakistani SMEs to understand their challenges and help overcome them – with a particular focus on technology transfer.
With the involvement of the business community and continued engagement with the government through the EU-Pakistan Business Forum, she expressed hope to develop initiatives, build capacity and provide technical assistance to support the SME development process in Pakistan.
“I remain confident that together we can expand the benefit of GSP+ to boost trade and ultimately allow Pakistan to take full advantage of GSP+” she added.
The final event of the forum would be held in Karachi next month.
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