LAHORE: Lars Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of the European Union has said that as per new EU regulations, Pakistan qualifies for GSP Plus status but to get the status it would have to submit an application to the EU Commission in Brussels.
The EU ambassador was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad, former Senior Vice Presidents Engineer Sohail Lashari and Malik Tahir Javaid and Executive Committee member Mian Zahid Javaid also spoke on the occasion.
The Ambassador said that now the ball is in the court of Pakistan to effectively negotiate with EU to obtain GSP plus in 2014 but Pakistan has yet not applied for GSP Plus. He said that new regulations have been adopted to accommodate countries such as Pakistan as EU treats its trade partners equally. For attainment it is imperative that Pakistan’s Government to timely negotiate as the EU Commission in Brussels will take at least six month time to evaluate application. “We have expectations and hope that Pakistan may qualify for GSP Plus in EU.”
Ambassador apprised that European Union EU is the largest trading partner of Pakistan with an annual trade volume of over 8 billion euro. Pakistan is an attractive market for EU for trade and investment. The Pakistani diaspora in EU is also strong. EU maintains single trade, goods, services and currency. He articulated that on 23 January 2012 the EU Foreign Affairs Council, consisting of the Foreign Ministers of all 27 Member States in the European Union approved a joint EU-Pakistan 5 year Engagement Plan, including cooperation in a wide range of areas from trade to foreign and security policy.
The EU envoy said that he personally believes that Pak-India talks will continue in future for the benefit of the people in two countries. He said that the European Union EU had already lifted the ban on the imports of seafood from Pakistan, which 27nation bloc had imposed in 2007. “This is a real breakthrough that should also inspire other industries in Pakistan to increase their exports to EU markets,” Lars Gunnar Wigemark.
The LCCI Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan is keen to enhance its exports to the European Union markets as both the sides have very strong bond in the areas of trade and business.
The LCCI Senior Vice President said that Pakistani textiles, Engineering components, Tractors, food items and leather products have a huge potential in European Union therefore these products must be focused on. He said that in the last three years Pakistan’s export to the European Union have been steady and on the rise. There is a need to work out a methodology to further increase this trade activity.
He said that European Union member countries should facilitate the Pakistani students for further education in terms of some relaxation of their dues. Since the exchange rate is very high and is hence discouraging many bright and deserving students to take up higher studies.
The LCCI Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad lauded the EU interest in infrastructure development in Pakistan. He said that it is a good sign that many social projects had already been completed in the areas of education, health of women in rural sector, child labour and provision of vocational training.