Trade, industry laud GSP plus status

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KARACHI: Trade and industry has hailed the EU Parliamentís decision of approving GSP Plus status for Pakistan, thereby allowing duty-free access to Pakistani goods to 27 European countries.

Industry leaders overwhelming lauded the decision and stated that it would help Pakistan overcome its major issues relating to unemployment, law and order situation as well as foreign exchange earnings.

They were, however, unanimous in expressing fears that in case government fails to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas, power and water to the industry, the expected benefits in exports to the tune of $500 million per annum would not be achieved.

Under the GSP plus status, Pakistani exports will enjoy duty-free access for a period of three years starting from next year to 2017 and it would cover around 3,500 products entering EU member states.

All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman Yasin Siddik told Dawn that it was a great achievement.

He further said that EU approved the GSP plus status for Pakistan with 406 votes in favour out of 751 members. This will allow exporters to enhance their exports to EU member states to the tune of $500 to $600m per annum.

Pakistani exporters and manufacturers were facing difficulty in competing with countries, like Bangladesh who were already enjoying duty-free access to European markets on getting 11.5pc tariff benefits.

However, after getting the GSP plus status, Pakistani exporters will have a level-playing field against such exports coming countries which had been already enjoying duty-free access to EU market, he maintained.

Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) chairman M Jawed Bilwani pointed towards another issue and said Pakistan would first have to match its tariff lines in Brussels, if it wants to benefit from the concession.

He said that only those goods will get the benefit which are below 6pc in EUís total imports which stand at around 4.1 billion euro.

He said that Bangladesh and India have matched tariff lines but so far Pakistan is lagging behind and around 1,462 tariff lines are not matched and it will also have to update its customs books.

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) chairman Shahzad Azam said that for getting full benefits from the GSP plus scheme, the government would have to give priority to value-added industry in raw material and supply of utilities.

He further said that the exports to EU markets were expected to increase by 25pc or $500m from the current $5.6bn after the GSP status.

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