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LAHORE: Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara on Thursday said that two-year performance report of Pakistan will be reviewed soon and further decision will be made for the extension of GSP Plus status to Pakistan.

She was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI).

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, Vice President Haris Ateeq, former LCCI Presidents Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Tahir Javed Malik and Executive Committee Members also spoke on the occasion.

Androulla Kaminara also said that Pakistan needs to introduce new products to enhance its exports with European Union.

She said that Pakistani products are best and can easily make their way to EU markets. New products and joint ventures can play a vital role in this regard.

About GSP Plus status to Pakistan, she said that two-year performance report of Pakistan will be reviewed soon and further decision will be made for the extension of this status to Pakistan.

EU envoy explains how Pakistan can carry on benefiting from GSP+ regime beyond 2023

She added that European Commission has tabled next generation of GSP Plus. She said that five new convections have been added and it is a good omen that Pakistan is the signatory. She said that Pakistan is the most successful country to use the GSP Plus status.

“We are ready to help Pakistan expand its exports to the European Union and would like to be its partner in this regard”, she said and pledged that the EU will continue engaging with partners, including Pakistan, to address the common challenge of climate change. She said that European Union is particularly focusing on the SME sector of Pakistan.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabri, warmly the EU Ambassador, said that the European Parliament has extended the GSP plus status for Pakistan till 31st December 2023 that is a great and appreciative initiative. In these challenging economic times, this will not have been possible without kind support of the government.

He said that European Union is the second most important trading partner of Pakistan. According to the trade figures available on ITC World Trade Map, Pakistan’s exports to EU stood at 7.96 Billion Dollars in 2020 while our imports from EU in the same period were 4.1 Billion Dollars.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that these trade figures essentially mean that EU accounts for about 14% of Pakistan’s total trade volume and around 31% of Pakistan’s total exports. In this context, the extension of GSP plus status for Pakistan till 31st December 2023 holds a great significance for our economy.

The LCCI President said that Pakistan’s exports to EU are heavily dominated by textiles which account for more than 75% of Pakistan’s exports to EU. Pakistan’s major imports from EU are comprised of machinery, transport equipment and chemicals. There is a need for greater product diversity in Pakistan’s exports to EU. The potential areas where Pakistan can enhance its exports to EU are leather products, furniture, carpets, plastics, sports goods and rice, etc.

“It is a steady feature of Pakistan’s trade with European Union that almost 71% of our total exports go to just five countries namely United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy,” the LCCI President said and added that we look forward to finding more opportunities of market penetration in other countries like Greece, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Finland and Ireland, etc., where Pakistan’s export are relatively much low.

Kabir said that we also need to exploit the trade potential by exporting agro-based processed foods to EU in collaboration with European companies through joint ventures and transfer of technology. He said that to enhance our exports to EU, it is imperative that we train the SMEs in Pakistan about the latest trends in textile, fashion and also the other potential sectors like leather, furniture, and carpets. “We would request you to bring the famous brands in these sectors to Pakistan for training our SMEs. LCCI is willing to extend maximum support and cooperation to the EU Embassy in this connection.”

The LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that the European Commission is revamping the GSP Plus by adding several new conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights and governance. “In this regard, we have learned that the European Commission has adopted the legislative proposal for the new GSP scheme for the period 2024-2034. We are hopeful of maintaining the GSP Plus status beyond 2023 by joining the new GSP scheme which starts from January 1st 2024”, Atteq added

EU-Pakistan Business Forum to be launched on 8th

He said that the private sector will play its due role and extend maximum support to the Government in maintaining the ratifications of the EU conventions and meeting the reporting obligations. We believe that in this connection, the close liaison of the private sector with Embassy of European Union is very important.

Earlier, EU Ambassador Androulla Kaminara while addressing a seminar at National Incubation Centre Lahore (NICL) at LUMS, complimented the role of NICL in bringing the best global practices to Pakistan and creating linkages with universities for technological innovation and access to experts. She encouraged the proliferation of this model to enhance the export potential of SMEs across Pakistan.

Recognising Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone for economic activity in Pakistan, the European Union hosted a business forum to discuss strategies for enhancing trade with the European Single Market and benefit from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). The daylong event held at a local hotel was attended by delegates from the government, European Member States, local industry and academia.

In his keynote address, the Chairman of the National Incubation Centre Lahore (NICL) at LUMS, Saleem Ahmad, presented a compelling case for corporate innovation to enhance productivity and competitiveness. Providing a strong evidence-based case, he stated, “Pandemic-led market distortions and supply chain interruptions have provided an opportunity for innovation and technological leapfrogging. To be able to compete with game-changing newcomers, SMEs need to emulate start-up culture, up-skill its human capital and embrace the entrepreneurial mindset to defend their turf and attain global competitiveness through quality and cost effectiveness. Moreover, by capitalising on innovation and technology, SMEs can help bridge the country’s productivity gap. A 2-3% increase in productivity can accelerate Pakistan’s GDP by more than 6%.”

Ahmad further detailed how SMEs should leverage incubation centres, especially NICL at LUMS, as their innovation and corporate networking hubs. Under his leadership, NICL has expanded its scope from serving as a springboard for venture incubation to focusing on mass scale human capital development through applied skills training and corporate innovation. This has been achieved via an intersection of applied research and industry involvement to solve Pakistan’s biggest problems.

Earlier, EU Ambassador Androulla Kaminara called on chief executive officer Punjab Board of Investment and Trade Dr Erfa Iqbal at PBIT office.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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