The award of the GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union will have diverse economic and social benefits.
These views were expressed by speakers at an inaugural meeting of the Pakistan-European Union Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies (PIPS) on Thursday.
National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said, “Getting preferential market access to the European Union countries will not only act as a catalyst for industrialisation, more jobs, and capital inflow but will also keep the youth out of the clutches of extremists. “Awarding of GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union is a landmark achieved by diplomatic interaction and parliamentary diplomacy.”
Sadiq invited parliamentarians from the European Union through their ambassadors to visit the country. “Boosting contacts through parliamentary friendship groups will help advance the goal of development.”
The speaker said that the recent smooth transition of power from one elected government to another is a great motivation for strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan.
EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said that the grant of GSP Plus showed the importance the European Union attached to its relations with Pakistan. In addition to expanding and facilitating Pakistan’s trade with EU, GSP Plus will also promote economic growth and create much needed jobs across Pakistan. He said that EU consumers would benefit as well from cheaper imports made in the country.
“The textile industry is an obvious winner, but we should work together to ensure that other sectors of the economy benefit as well.” Supporting growth and equal opportunity for everyone in Pakistan, regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender, are important objectives of the EU’s relations with Pakistan, he added.
“Increased trade access for Pakistan in the European markets under the GSP Plus will have broader economic benefits for the country,” said Wigemark. He also expressed the desire to hold dialogue with all stakeholders to implement GSP Plus.
He underlined the importance of upholding human rights, pointing out that Pakistan was already a signatory to a slew of international commitments. “Our commitment to democracy in Pakistan is long-standing and EU will support Pakistan in strengthening democracy and the parliamentary process.”
Earlier, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir briefed ambassadors of the European Union countries on efforts to achieve the GSP Plus status.
A large numbers of ambassadors of European Union countries and parliamentarians were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2014.
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