Pakistan and the European Union (EU) are set to launch a ‘strategic dialogue’ next week in an effort to facilitate closer links with the European Union.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton is visiting Pakistan from June 4 to 6, according to a statement issued by the foreign ministry here on Thursday.
The strategic dialogue is being held following the decision taken at the first Pakistan-EU summit held in 2009.
The high-level dialogue would work out modalities to implement the ambitious EU-Pakistan Five-Year Engagement Plan concluded in January 2012.
The EU is Pakistan’s single largest trading partner accounting for 25% of total exports and 11% of total imports.
Bilateral Trade in 2011 stood at $10.56 billion, with exports at $6.18 billion and imports at $4.38 billion. Investment from the EU during 2010-11 was to the tune of over $230 million.
Ashton’s visit will provide an opportunity for Pakistan to reiterate its interest for inclusion in the GSP-plus and early implementation of the package of Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATPs) for Pakistan, foreign ministry spokesperson Moazam Ali Khan said.
The EU and Pakistan signed a Multi-year Indicative Programme (MIP) last year for 2011-2013. Under the MIP, the EU would provide 225 million Euros for rural development, education, health and governance.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.