EU’s mission to see Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP Plus extension

Mehtab Haider
Thursday, Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: European Union’s monitoring mission has arrived in Pakistan to gauge its eligibility to qualify for the next phase of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) plus for 10 years from 2024-2034 by implementing a total of 32 conditions.

According to an official announcement made here on Wednesday, a European Union monitoring mission comprising officials from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission’s Directorates-General for Trade and for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion arrived in Pakistan Wednesday. The mission will make an assessment of the effective implementation of 27 international conventions to Pakistan’s signatory.

The GSP+ provides wide-ranging tariff preferences for imports to the EU from vulnerable developing countries to support poverty eradication, sustainable development and their participation in the global economy as well as reinforce good governance.

Eligible countries like Pakistan can export goods to the EU market at zero duties for 66% of tariff lines. This preferential status is conditional on GSP+ countries demonstrating tangible progress on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, climate change and good governance.

As stated by Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis in 2021 “For five decades, the EU GSP has supported vulnerable countries to grow in a sustainable manner by giving them preferential access to the EU market. This has helped beneficiary countries to diversify their economies and create jobs. It has also galvanised beneficiary countries into improving human and labour rights, the environment and good governance”.

As underlined by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell Fontelles “The GSP scheme is all about the EU’s and Pakistan’s joint commitment to sustainable development.”GSP+ has been very beneficial to Pakistani businesses increasing their exports to the EU market by 65% since the country joined GSP+ in 2014.

The European Single Market, with over 440 million consumers, is Pakistan’s most important destination. Pakistan exports worth EUR 5.4 billion (approx. PKR 1.2 trillion) garments, bedlinen, terry towels, hosiery, leather, sports and surgical goods.

The mission would hold meetings with the government, the UN Country Team, International Labour Organization (ILO), business and civil society representatives as well as other stakeholders.

The findings of the mission would be part of the next GSP report, which is due to be presented to the European Parliament and the Council towards the end of 2022.The European Union continuously monitors the implementation of relevant 27 international conventions drawing inter alia on the reports and information by the UN and other international agencies that are custodians of the respective convention.

The EU regularly sends monitoring missions to assess the situation on ground and subsequently reflect its evaluation in the publicly available report to the European Parliament and to the EU Member States in the Council.

So far, three biennial reviews had been concluded in 2016, 2018 and 2020, respectively.Apart from Pakistan, the EU currently unilaterally grants GSP+ tariff concessions to Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. The current GSP framework is coming to an end in December 2023. Legislative process on its successor for 2024-2033 is ongoing.