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EU grants GSP Plus status to Pakistan

13 December, 2013

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BRUSSELS: The European Parliament has granted GSP (Generalised Scheme of Preferences) plus status to Pakistan, media reports said on Thursday.

In all, four hundred and six members of the European Parliament supported the move in the session, while 186 votes went against the granting of GSP plus status. The EU's "Generalised Scheme of Preferences" (GSP) allows developing country exporters to pay lower duties on their exports to the EU. This gives them vital access to EU markets and contributes to their economic growth. After getting the GSP plus status, Pakistani exports would be exempted from the general rules.

The formal approval of the EU Parliament next month will allow almost 20 percent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and 70 percent at preferential rates. EU trade concessions will benefit the country's largest manufacturer and exporter, the textile and clothing industry, the most by enabling its products to compete with those of regional rivals like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which already have duty-free access to the bloc's market.

The status will prove to be of great benefit to Pakistan's textile manufacturers and exporters who will now have access to 27 European countries without having to pay duties. Textile exports had been declining in Pakistan, as manufacturers and exporters were finding it hard to compete with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who already had duty-free access to European markets. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that award of GSP Plus status to Pakistan shows confidence of the international markets in the excellent quality of its products.

"We are grateful to the European Commission and member countries of the European Union for their unstinting support at every step of the process and to the European Parliament for the adoption of the Single Delegated Act," the Foreign Office said Thursday. In an interview, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar termed GSP Plus status as a historic and tremendous achievement of Pakistan. He said that All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) would get one trillion rupees benefit annually after the grant of GSP plus status. The governor said that Pakistan will be able to export textile goods to European member countries till 2017 without any duties. It will increase export worth one billion dollar. Chaudhry Sarwar added that major groups of European Parliament were in favour of Pakistan.

President Mamnoon Hussain has said that the GSP Plus scheme would not only further strengthen our trade relations with the member countries of the European Union but would also significantly help strengthen our economy through greater trade, generation of economic opportunities and creation of more jobs for our people. Welcoming the approval of Single Delegated Act by the European Parliament today whereby ten countries, including Pakistan would be entitled to GSP Plus Scheme, the president appreciated the efforts of all those who worked hard for passage of this Act.

He also acknowledged and appreciated European Commission and the member countries of European Union for their continued support to the country for getting GSP Plus status. The president expressed the hope that our economy and the business community would take full advantage of the facility to secure greater place for Pakistani products in the European markets.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the nation over the award of GSP-Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union. "Award of GSP-Plus status shows the confidence of international markets in the excellent quality of Pakistani products", said the prime minister. "Gaining access to European markets was the top most priority of the government as part of economic development agenda, which has been achieved due to continuous and hard work of the ministers and officials of the ministries of finance, commerce and foreign affairs and friends of Pakistan in Europe".

This status would enable Pakistan to export more than one billion dollars worth of products to the international markets. The prime minister further said that increase in exports would resultantly facilitate in economic growth and help in generation of millions of additional jobs.

End.

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