EU finalising new engagement plan with Pakistan

FAISALABAD: European Union Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain has said that many success stories have emerged in Pakistan in terms of trade enhancement after the GSP Plus facility, but there is still a lot of potential for ramping up exports.

“The European Union is in the process of finalising a new engagement plan to further deepen relations between Pakistan and the European bloc,” he said.

Earlier, the EU had adopted a five-year engagement plan in 2012, which broadened and deepened the relationship between the two sides.

Speaking to members of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) on Monday, Cautain said the EU was reviewing the progress Pakistan had made on implementing the 27 UN conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights, climate change, narcotics control and corruption.

The review is part of the GSP Plus scheme of duty relief which monitors progress on the conventions and later a report is submitted in this regard to the EU parliament.

Responding to a question, the EU envoy appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and assured businessmen of full cooperation in painting a soft image of Pakistan in EU countries.

PTEA Chairman Shaiq Jawed termed Europe a major export destination for Pakistan and the largest trading partner. He said GSP Plus incentives had helped Pakistan to build its capacity in order to become a more effective and competitive partner in international commerce.

“Not only Pakistan’s market share has increased, but exports to the EU have also jumped from 4.54 billion euros in 2013 to 6.29 billion euros in 2016,” he said. The textile sector, which was the major beneficiary of the duty relief, has gained significant momentum with a 55% increase in exports, supported by a 60% rise in shipments of home textile products.

He emphasised that an international labour standard compliance and reporting programme was successfully running in Pakistan with technical assistance from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve workplace practices in the textile industry.

Another programme, in collaboration with the WWF Pakistan, has also been initiated to support enforcement and compliance with the global labour and environmental standards.

A sustainable production centre is being established under the aegis of GIZ Pakistan to work jointly for the promotion and execution of production plans.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2018.

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