Wednesday Oct 06, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The fourth biennial review (2020 – 2021) of the European Union’s Special Incentive Arrangement for Good Governance and Sustainable Development (GSP- Plus) 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.
According to a statement issued Wednesday, the EU monitoring mission is expected to visit Pakistan in November 2021.
The GSP-Plus is a pivotal mechanism for improving economic relations between Pakistan and the EU, whereby Pakistan is given zero-rated tariff preferences on almost 91% 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, among other, duty-free access in the EU market.
The EU GSP-Plus is linked with the implementation of 27 UN conventions on human rights, labour rights, climate change, governance, and narcotics control.
After every two years, a review is carried out by the bloc to ensure the commitment of the beneficiary countries to effectively implement these 27 UN conventions. So far, three successful biennial reviews have been concluded in 2016, 2018, and 2020, respectively.
The European Commission has published new proposed legislation for GSP Scheme on September 22, under which the beneficiary countries — including Pakistan — will have to ratify and implement five new international conventions in addition to the previous 27 UN conventions, thus bringing the total number to 32 international conventions.
The Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said that the “EU is our biggest export partner and we have excellent relations with all its member states."
"If you see our exports country wise, EU member countries will be in the top ten export destinations. As the 4th biennial review of GSP-Plus incentive is currently underway, I am confident that due to the positive initiatives by the government, it will be successfully completed," he added.
The adviser stated that the five new international conventions in the new GSP scheme are in line with the government’s priorities and "we are already taking steps to ensure labour rights, child rights, and rights of the persons with disabilities."
Regarding the issue of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the adviser mentioned that Pakistan has joined the international community in celebrating the “World Environment Day 2021”, as its global host, on June 5, which carried special significance as it also witnessed the formal launch of “United Nations 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, adding that Pakistan is already in the midst of one of the world's most ambitious efforts to expand and restore its 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 the Parliament for detailed deliberations before adoption.
Once the European Council and the Parliament adopted 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.