European Union Parliament votes in favour of Generalized System of Preferences plus Status for Pakistan

Islamabad, December 12, 2013 (PPI-OT): The European Parliament in its plenary session today voted in favour of grant of GSP+ to Pakistan. It is expected that as a result of grant of GSP+ status Pakistan’s exports to European Union (EU) are likely to increase by around one billion US dollars in 2014.

Previously, Pakistan had duty free access in the EU from 2002 to 2004 under the Drug Related Arrangement under the GSP Scheme. However this arrangement ended when the GSP Scheme was successfully challenged in the WTO.

Consequently since 2005 many crucial exports of Pakistan including textile garments and hosiery, bed linen and footwear, were facing high tariffs and stiff competition from our competitors. This is because most of our competitors had duty free access to the EU under various preferential trade arrangements.

From 2006 onwards Pakistan was unable to qualify for GSP Plus since it did not meet various eligibility criteria. In the latest GSP Scheme which is to become effective from January 2014 the eligibility criteria were modified, thereby, enabling Pakistan to apply for this facility.

Pakistan accordingly filed its application for GSP Plus with the European Commission in March 2013. In the first phase of processing the European Commission conducted a detailed examination of Pakistan’s application.

This process took around six months and in the end of August 2013 the European commission notified the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament through a Delegated Act that Pakistan along with nine other applicant countries met the eligibility requirements for GSP Plus.

Thereafter both these EU institutions examined Pakistan’s application. During this period, the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the sustained and successful leadership of the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif undertook an intensive lobbying effort with various stakeholders in European Union.

In this regard the Minister of State for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan toured various European Capitals to meet and advocate Pakistan’s case with EU Ministers and other stakeholders.

In addition he also lobbied for Pakistan’s case with the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) attending the Plenary Session of the European Parliament at Strasbourg. A valuable role in this context was also played by the Governor Punjab Ch. Mohammad Sarwar in persuading various MEPs to vote in favour of Pakistan. Being a former member of the UK Parliament he successfully utilized his contacts for the cause of Pakistan.

As a result in a meeting of European Council in October, 2013, the motion for Pakistan’s inclusion in GSP Plus received 19 out of 28 votes in favour. The International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament in its meeting on the 5th of November, 2013 also voted in favour of Pakistan getting GSP Plus. The last stage in the process was a vote by the full European Parliament which concluded successfully today.

The new GSP Scheme will take effect from 1st January, 2014 onwards. The sectors that are likely to benefit from the withdrawal of import tariffs include textile fabrics, yarn, textile garments including hosiery, bed, kitchen and toilet linen, footwear, protective gloves of leather, sports gloves of leather, ethanol and plastics.

It is anticipated that this enhanced market access opportunity to the EU will create almost 100,000 additional jobs in the manufacturing sector in one year. Many products like footballs, fruits including mangoes and pine nuts, animal products, cutlery products, surgical instruments, basmati rice already have zero rated duty for imports in European Union from Pakistan.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326

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