Pakistan risks losing GSP+ status as EU looks to prepare draft report
As the European Union (EU) looks to prepare a draft report on GSP+ status, Pakistan needs to work in several areas to avoid losing the special incentive arrangements of the EU that it has enjoyed for the last seven years.
The GSP is a trade and development policy instrument in place since 1971 which is set to expire on Dec 31, 2023. Pakistan, a major recipient of the GSP+ scheme, benefitted from zero duty on several products.
The 27-member-bloc sees the coming months as crucial for extending the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status for 2024.
The EU continues monitoring the progress of beneficiary nations towards the implementation of dozens of conventions, the Dawn newspaper reported. Since the beneficiary countries will have to re-apply for the scheme's extension, their record of compliance is given due consideration, the report added.
"The time till October is crucial for Pakistan to show tangible results as a draft report for GSP+ status will be prepared in that month," Head of EU delegation Guido Dolara said while speaking to the business community's representatives at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) on Friday.
According to Dolara, still needs to work in various areas where the available potential is still untapped.
"As the LCCI can play an important part in helping the SME sector to realise the potential of GSP+, we are close to finalising the monetary report that will be ready in October," he said.
According to InsiderOver, facing the EU's enhanced scrutiny over its handling of human rights issues could prove to be a sticking point.
Notably, some groups of MEPs in the European Parliament (EP) have started to call out the dubious role played by Pakistani institutions in suppressing/manipulating information about discrimination against minorities.
Earlier this year, a group presented a motion for parliamentary resolution highlighting rights abuses in Pakistan. The group has requested the European Parliament to include the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan.
Under enormous pressure, Islamabad has resorted to its old practice of lobbying using various Pakistani stakeholders including diplomats and businessmen.
Furthermore, Pakistan embassies in Europe are scrambling to convince host countries for the continuation of the scheme.