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Commerce Adviser hopes for successful completion of GSP-Plus biennial review

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razzaq Dawood. Source: FILE/APP.

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razzaq Dawood, has expressed hope that 4th Biennial Review of European Union (EU) Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP) Plus incentive will be successfully completed.

“I am confident that due to the positive initiatives by the government it will be successfully completed,” he said. The adviser added that EU is our biggest export partner and Pakistan has excellent relations with all EU member states.

He said EU member countries are among the top ten export destinations. He said five new international conventions in the new GSP scheme were in line with government’s priorities. He said they are taking steps to ensure labour rights, child rights and rights of persons with disabilities.

On the issue of Paris Agreement on Climate Change, he mentioned that Pakistan has joined the international community in celebrating World Environment Day 2021 as its global host, on June 5, 2021, which carried special significance as it also witnessed the formal launch of UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

The observance of World Environment Day 2021 on the theme of ‘ecosystem restoration’ is fully aligned with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Green Vision, as manifested in Pakistan’s flagship ecosystem restoration initiative, he said.

He said that Pakistan was in the midst of one of the world’s most ambitious efforts to expand and restore forests, having already planted a billion trees as part of its 10 Billion Tree Project. The legislative proposal for the new GSP scheme will now be submitted to the European Council and Parliament for detailed deliberations before adoption, he said.

The adviser said that once the European Council and Parliament adopt the new scheme, Pakistan, like any other beneficiary country of the GSP scheme, will have to file a new application for the new GSP scheme and ratify and implement 32 International Conventions.

The Fourth Biennial Review (2020–2021) has commenced and Pakistan has submitted its responses to the EU on the list of issues and follow up questions on September 15, 2020, and September 15, 2021, respectively.

The EU monitoring mission is expected to visit Pakistan in November 2021. The European Commission has published the new proposed legislation for GSP Scheme on September 22, 2021. Under the new GSP Scheme the beneficiary countries, including Pakistan, will have to ratify and implement five new International Conventions in addition to the previous 27 UN Conventions,

So far three successful biennial reviews have been concluded in 2016, 2018 and 2020 respectively. European Union’s ‘Special Incentive Arrangement for Good Governance and Sustainable Development’ (GSP-Plus) was a pivotal mechanism for improving economic relations whereby Pakistan is given zero-rated tariff preferences on almost 91 percent of tariff lines to the EU market.

The GSP-Plus incentive provides many Pakistani export-oriented products including garments, bed linen, terry towels, hosiery, leather, sports and surgical goods duty-free access in the EU market.

The EU’s GSP-Plus is linked with the implementation of 27 UN Conventions on human rights, labour rights, climate change, governance, and narcotics control. A review is carried out after every two years by the European Union to ensure the commitment of the beneficiary countries to effectively implement these 27 UN Conventions.