The European Parliament’s plan of doing more “for poorer countries” has opened trade gates for three new countries including Pakistan.
The new rules will enable Pakistan, Philippines and Ukraine to apply for zero duty access on their exports to the EU under the “GSP+” incentive scheme, according to a Parliament statement.
“The new EU trade scheme is more predictable and more generous to countries that deserve it,” said British Conservative MEP and Legal Affairs spokesperson, Sajjad Karim. Pakistan will be allowed to apply for zero duty access if they agree to abide by the 27 international conventions in the field of human rights.
The new rules will reduce the number of countries that enjoy preferential access to EU markets from 176 to around 75. It will also reduce the total value of imports that qualify for EU preferences from 60 billion euros in 2009 to about 37.7 billion euros in 2014.
The updated generalised system of preferences (GSP), the Parliament informed, removes tariff preferences, such as reduced or zero duties, for EU imports from countries where per capita income has exceeded US 4,000 for four years. This rule ousted Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia from the beneficiaries list and will now have compete on an equal footing with the EU in world markets. Latin American countries Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay remained out of the benefitting list.
The GSP plus scheme will contribute to the promotion of human rights, democracy and freedom of speech in the developing world, added Karim who is also Chairman of the European Parliament Friends of Pakistan Group.
“The European Parliament Friends of Pakistan group has been campaigning to increase the threshold of the GSP+ scheme to allow Pakistan to enjoy more trade with the EU.”
He also dismissed the few MEPs who called for Pakistan not to be included in the trade scheme in a European Parliament debate on Monday.
“The clear long-term strategy is for the EU and Pakistan to cooperate on a wide range of issues including trade, security and policy. The EU-Pakistan Five Year Engagement Plan and the recent successful launch of the first Strategic Dialogue in Islamabad this month with Baroness Ashton is clear evidence of that,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.