Pakistan qualifies for GSP Plus status, says EU envoy

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Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of the European Union, said that as per new EU regulations, Pakistan qualifies for GSP Plus status but to get the status it would have to submit an application to the EU Commission in Brussels. The EU Ambassador was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Thursday. He said that now the ball is in the court of Pakistan to effectively negotiate with EU to obtain GSP plus in 2014 but Pakistan hasn't yet applied for GSP Plus.

He said that new regulations have been adopted to accommodate countries such as Pakistan as EU treats its trade partners equally. For attainment it is imperative that Pakistan's Government to timely negotiate as the EU Commission in Brussels will take at least six months' time to evaluate the application.

"We have expectations and hope that Pakistan may qualify for GSP Plus in EU." Ambassador apprised that European Union (EU) is the largest trading partner of Pakistan with an annual trade volume of over 8 billion euro. Pakistan is an attractive market for EU for trade and investment. The Pakistani Diaspora in EU is also strong. EU maintains single trade, goods, services and currency.

He articulated that on 23 January 2012 the EU Foreign Affairs Council, consisting of the Foreign Ministers of all 27 Member States in the European Union approved a joint EU-Pakistan Five-year Engagement Plan, including co-operation in a wide range of areas from trade to foreign and security policy.

The EU envoy said that he personally believes that Pak-Indian talks will continue in future for the benefit of the people in the two countries. He said that the European Union (EU) has already lifted the ban on the imports of seafood from Pakistan, which 27-nation bloc had imposed in 2007. "This is a real breakthrough that should also inspire other industries in Pakistan to increase their exports to EU markets," Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan is keen to enhance its exports to the European Union markets as both the sides have very strong bond in the areas of trade and business. He said that Pakistani textiles, Engineering components, Tractors, food items and leather products have a huge potential in European Union; therefore, these products must be focused on.

He said that in the last three years Pakistan's exports to the European Union have been steady and on the rise. There is a need to work out a methodology to further increase this trade activity. He said that European Union member countries should facilitate the Pakistani students for further education in terms of some relaxation of their dues.

Since the exchange rate is very high and hence discourages many bright and deserving students to take up higher studies LCCI Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad lauded the EU interest in infrastructure development in Pakistan. He said that it is a good sign that many social projects have already been completed in the areas of education, health of women in rural sector, child labour and provision of vocational training.

Courtesy: BR

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