KARACHI: Netherlands’ Ambassador to Pakistan, Marcel de Vink, has said his country supports Pakistan in its effort to gain the status of Generalised Scheme of Preferences-Plus (GSP+), which can possibly result in a significant increase in the country’s exports to the European Union (EU).
Speaking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday evening, Vink said the decision will be made by all EU countries and the EU parliament before the end of 2013.
“There are quite a few formal requirements. (But) we are optimistic that Pakistan can achieve the GSP+ status,” he said while speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural ceremony of the Dutch Business Circle – an informal business group that aims to facilitate interaction between Pakistani and Dutch businesses.
GSP+ is a trade arrangement that allows exporters from developing countries to pay lower or no duties on their exports to the European Union (EU).
Being granted a GSP+ status depends on whether the benefitting countries effectively implement as many as 27 international conventions on environment issues, good governance and human and labour rights. While the standard GSP – which will stay in force until the end of 2013 – allows 176 developing countries and territories to enjoy easy access to the EU through various duty reductions for certain product lines, the upcoming GSP+ will be limited to 89 low and lower middle-income countries.
Experts believe that with the exit of many competitors from the scheme, Pakistan will be in a position to exploit more opportunities to export to the EU.
The Dutch ambassador said the Netherlands has identified four areas in which there is a lot of potential for increased Dutch trade and investment in Pakistan, with the agricultural sector being on top.
“If Pakistani companies are interested in growing vegetables and fruits, or in setting up dairy or poultry farms, they are well-advised to look for Dutch business partners,” he said. Other key areas of interest, according to Ambassador Vink, are water management, energy management and logistics.
Pakistan’s exports to the Netherlands amounted to $449.1 million in 2012. Similarly, exports of the Netherlands to Pakistan in 2012 were worth just $245.1 million during the same year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2013.