KARACHI: A Pakistani diplomat in Europe has held out assurance that the country is not going to lose concessions in export duty it enjoys in the European markets under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme as Islamabad is not legally bound to keep moratorium on executions in place.
“Pakistan is not legally bound on the moratorium on death penalty, therefore, unlike the popular perception, it is not going to lose duty benefits under the GSP Plus scheme,” the Pakistani envoy stationed in Europe told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
Pakistan is bound to implement 27 international conventions to continue with the GSP Plus scheme but these conventions do not bind the signatory to abolish death penalty, he added.
Pakistani investors and exporters, especially from the textile sector, have been apprehensive about the fate of the GSP Plus scheme since the government lifted the self-imposed six-year moratorium on executions.
Just two days ago, the European Union (EU) mission in Islamabad condemned the government’s decision to resume executions. However, the statement from the EU mission did not mention the GSP Plus scheme and whether the country will lose it or not, if it presses ahead with the executions.
The EU officials had been strongly urging Pakistan in recent years to continue with death penalty moratorium.
Therefore, many still believe in Pakistan that the removal of the death penalty freeze will eventually create problems for the country.
“The uncertainty among Pakistani businessmen should end now. There is no obligatory link between the GSP Plus scheme and the moratorium on death penalty,” the ambassador said.
The confusion was so widespread that Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan clarified last week that within the 27 international conventions of the United Nations (UN), there was no understanding on the death penalty moratorium.
“The government’s decision to hang terrorists will not have any adverse implications for the GSP Plus scheme,” he had told a press conference.
The EU approved the GSP Plus scheme in December 2013 for a period of 10 years with the condition that Pakistan will ensure good governance, implement human rights, labour rights, work for sustainable development etc.
“Pakistani government has taken the right decision in the current circumstances. We have no choice but to hang those terrorists who are responsible for killing over 50,000 Pakistanis,” a Karachi-based textile exporter said who sells more than half of his products to the EU countries.
“I know the Europeans abhor death penalty. Even then I expect the EU authorities will understand the viewpoint of Pakistani government,” he added.
Pakistan’s exports to the EU have already crossed $5.7 billion, up 16% or $910 million with its exports to the EU in the first nine months (Jan-Sep) 2014, according to Eurostat – the EU’s data collection agency.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2014.
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