Pakistan’s GSP Plus status could be under threat, says EU

Country must comply with 27 UN conventions, particularly respect human rights


Peer Muhammad November 05, 2015
In the first year after winning the GSP Plus status, Pakistan’s exports rose 21.24% and they increased a further 12.5% in the first seven months of 2015 compared to the pre-GSP period. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:


The suspension of GSP Plus status of Pakistan cannot be ruled out if the South Asian nation fails to comply with 27 conventions of the United Nations, particularly those that are related to human rights, said the European Union ambassador to Pakistan.


He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on “GSP Plus in Pakistan: Opportunities and Challenges”, organised by the Democracy Reporting International here on Thursday.

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The ambassador, Jean-Francois Cautain, pointed out that there were precedents when the EU suspended the GSP Plus status of different countries after they could not comply with the UN conventions.

In this regard, he cited the example of Sri Lanka as its preferential trade facility was suspended due to human rights violations years ago.

He clarified that the moratorium on death penalty was not directly part of the 27 conventions, but it was linked with the conventions on human rights and democracy.

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“The EU has completed its assessment of the progress pertaining to the GSP Plus status and the commitment made by Pakistan; an assessment report will be presented to the EU parliament before a review of the facility in January next year,” he said.

Speaking to the audience, German Ambassador Ina Lepel stressed that compliance with and implementation of the UN conventions were in favour of Pakistan and any deviation would hurt the country’s image.

EU Mission Deputy Head Stefano Gatoo acknowledged that in the first phase Pakistan had made progress at the institutional and policy levels as far as commitments to the UN conventions were concerned. Now, “there is a need to progress at the implementation level,” he said.

Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir, who was also present at the event, said Pakistan’s exports to the EU had risen more than 33% compared to the pre-GSP Plus period. In the first year after winning the GSP Plus status, exports rose 21.24% and they increased a further 12.5% in the first seven months of 2015 compared to the pre-GSP period.

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“The statistics of exports for 19 months under the GSP Plus programme suggest that this scheme has proved to be a resounding success for Pakistan.”

Dastgir told the audience that GSP Plus came under the title of Special Incentive for Sustainable Development and good governance was an incentive to show progress on international human rights obligations and was not a reward.

He insisted that Pakistan was the only country that had made institutional arrangements and established a treaty implementation cell in order to meet international commitments.

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According to Dastgir, Pakistan has made three significant achievements since the current government took over in June 2013. “Incidents of terrorism have dropped by 70% and financial stabilisation and consolidation of democracy are the other noteworthy accomplishments, which the world also acknowledges.”

The chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association said the GSP Plus scheme had opened the doors to export of Pakistani products to the EU market in a smooth manner.

Almost 80% to 85% of the country’s exports to the EU comprised textile products, he said, adding the textile industry had set a target of increasing annual exports from $13 billion to $26 billion over the next five years.

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“It could be possible if the sector is provided with special incentives and a level playing field.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2015.

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COMMENTS (18)

ABC | 6 years ago | Reply @Vir: Your understanding of written comment is very weak. Please refrain from counter commenting if you cannot comprehend whats written. For your poor comprehension skills let me make it clear the comment wasnt about the article's English
Vectra | 6 years ago | Reply @ABC yea thanks for appreciation
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