Post-GSP Plus: EU team reviews progress on social standards

Visits APTMA office, discusses benefits of GSP facility

Our Correspondent May 14, 2015

LAHORE: In a follow-up to the grant of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status to Pakistan, a delegation of the European Commission visited the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) office.

The delegation reviewed the benefits of the facility and the progress made so far on the application of social standards related to labour and environmental laws.

European Commission Trade Office Director General Marc Vanheukelen led the team along with European Union Acting Ambassador Stefano Gatto.

Aptma Punjab Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Akbar welcomed the delegation and stated that textile exports had started showing improvement in the EU market due to the GSP Plus facility.

“Exports of apparel products recorded an increase of 24% in volumes and 30% in value from January to December 2014,” he said.

However, he pointed out that the growth pattern was not commensurate with the potential of the industry due to productivity constraints, particularly the energy shortages.

“Both the industry and the government are working on various solutions for the availability of energy at regionally competitive tariffs,” he added.

Akbar said Aptma in collaboration with GIZ had undertaken a number of initiatives concerning energy conservation, use of renewable energy, water conservation, material flow management and implementation of social standards in the Punjab-based garment industry.

Vanheukelen appreciated the efforts aimed at complying with the standards and explained that in January 2016, and every two years after that, the commission would present a report on the status of ratification of relevant conventions to the European Parliament and the European Council.

“The main focus is on implementation of human rights including labour rights, child labour, women rights, gender balances, OHAS standards and unionisation,” he said.

The director said a change was being witnessed in Pakistan, things were now getting better and legislations were taking place with a sense of willingness.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2015.

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