Pakistani labour
To bolster exports, the government has removed three barriers: Shift from fixed parity that artificially overvalued rupee, giving refunds to exporters and industrialists on time and exemptions on customs duties mainly on raw materials. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Islamabad: The European Commission has retained Pakistan’s Generalised Scheme of Preference-Plus (GSP+) status, allowing Pakistani exporters to continue to benefit from preferential trade access.

Earlier, there were concerns about a temporary suspension of the status following a review of Pakistan’s GSP+ status due to concerns over human rights issues. However, the European Commission decided to retain the status.

The European Union (EU) is one of the biggest trading partners of Pakistan, accounting for 14.3 per cent of the country’s total trade in 2020 and 28 per cent of total exports. Pakistan’s exports to the EU went up to $7.5 billion, or 34 per cent of the total exports of the country after getting GSP plus status, according to European Union’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara.

More than 78 per cent of Pakistan’s exports enter the EU at preferential rates after the country attained the GSP+ status in 2014.

The GSP+ is a special trading arrangement that provides developing countries preferential access to the European markets to increase exports. GSP+ beneficiaries are required to ratify 27 conventions related to human rights, labour rights, good governance and protection of the environment.

Timely extension

On September 22, the EU Commission adopted the legislative proposal for the new GSP scheme for 2024-2034 as the current framework will expire at the end of 2023.

The new regulation includes new six conventions for beneficiaries. These relate to labour rights and child rights, providing facilities to people with physical disabilities, tackling climate change.

“The new GSP regime will strengthen our capacity to use trade preferences not only to create economic opportunities but also to advance sustainable development and universal values around the world,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of European Commission.

There are currently 8 GSP+ beneficiaries: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Armenia, Bolivia and Cape Verde.