By Sana Jamal
ISLAMABAD (Pakistan) – Pakistan and European Union enjoy strong bilateral relations and recent statistics indicate signs of ever growing trade ties.
Member European Parliament Richard Howitt has said that strong relations now exist between Pakistan and the European Union. In an interview with Pakistan’s national broadcasting corporation, Mr. Howitt said the recent meetings with Pakistani leadership on different issues including human rights were useful. He also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism, and recognized Pakistan’s numerous sacrifices in countering the menace.
The growing trade relations between Pakistan and EU are especially significant. Mr. Richard Howitt termed the over US $1 billion increase in Pakistan’s exports to EU after getting GSP plus, a huge achievement for Pakistan.
Pakistan and European Union’s economic ties are greatly improving as the two sides have agreed to take trade cooperation beyond GSP Plus and explore new avenues of trade facilitation and enhancement.
Indicators show Pakistan’s exports to the EU have increased by 1.16 billion USD during the first 11 months since the implementation of GSP Plus in January 2014. Pakistan’s traditional sectors, textiles and leather, greatly benefits from the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – a system that allows developing country exporters to pay less or no duties on their exports to the EU.
Federal Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, in his recent meeting with EU delegation, said that GSP pus had a positive effect on Pakistan’s industrial sector and its trade incentives would enhance youth and women empowerment in Pakistan. He also proposed joint ventures to establish mutually beneficial economic relations between the people of Pakistan and the EU.
EU is Pakistan’s second largest trading partner after China. Pakistan’s exports to the EU are heavily dependent on textile (41.8%) and clothing (33.6%) products, followed by leather products. The main imports from the EU are mechanical and electrical machinery (48%) followed by chemicals and pharmaceuticals (13.5%) and telecommunication equipment (12.4 %).
A delegation of the EU Parliament, comprising of Head of South Asia Delegation of the European Parliament Jean Lambert, EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, and members parliament Richard Howitt, Michael Galher, Sajjad Karim and Philippe Kamaris recently met Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab.
PM Nawaz Sharif has stated that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with the European Union. In his recent meeting with EU delegation, PM said Pakistan was deeply interested in its engagement with the European Parliament and stressed for devising a mechanism for regular consultations between the two parliaments.
However implementation of 27 UN conventions relating to the GSP plus program still remains a concern for European Union delegation which met All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership. A treaty implementation cell has been established in the PM’s office to oversee the implementation of the UN conventions on human rights in all the constituent units of Pakistan. Meanwhile APTMA Chairman S.M. Tanveer also assured the EU delegation that his association was working with the Punjab government for implementation of the conventions.