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LAHORE: The European Union’s (EU) Generalized System of Preferences plus (GSP Plus) Monitoring Mission has discussed in detail the developments and progress made on implementation of 27 International Conventions concerning GSP+ with the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership.

The Monitoring Mission including Guido Dolara, DG Trade Service, Guus Houttuin, External Action Service, Andreas Striegnitz, External Action Service and Srefan Schroeer, Employment Service visited APTMA House on Friday where it was received by Chairman APTMA Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman APTMA North Hamid Zaman, Senior Vice Chairman APTMA Kamran Arshad, Aamir Fayyaz, former Chairman APTMA, senior textile leaders and Secretary General APTMA Raza Baqir.

Head of the EU delegation informed APTMA members that the European Commission has published the legislation for GSP scheme (2024-34) on September 22, 2021 for new GSP Scheme (2024 -34).

He said the EU had added six new Conventions along with assessing the situation of human rights, press freedom, gender equality and child labour related issues last year while extending the GSP plus status for Pakistan.

GSP+ extension: EU mission lands in Islamabad

Members of the visiting delegation informed APTMA members that the newly proposed scheme aims to improve key features of the scheme to better respond to the evolving needs and challenges of GSP countries, as well as, reinforce the scheme’s social, labour, environmental and climate dimensions. It will be in place for ten years. There is an expansion in the list of International Conventions from 27 to 32 that beneficiary countries will have to ratify and implement, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman APTMA Rahim Nasir said since the grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan, country’s textile and clothing exports to the European Union have increased by 63% while the overall exports have increased by 45%.

He said the government has already approved the Textiles and Apparel Policy (TAP) 2020-25 to double Pakistan’s export target up to $42 billion. Textile Policy approved by the cabinet contemplated three years target as textile exports will be jacked up to $27 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23, $34 billion in 2023-24, and $42 billion in the fiscal year 2024-25.

He said the textile sector alone represents 46% of total manufacturing sector and around 40% of total labour force. He informed that textile exports of US$15.4 billion registered in FY21 are expected to fetch $20 billion by close of the current financial year. He added that performance of textile exports during May this year was highly recommendable recording upsurge of 50% over the last year and it was encouraging to note that the value added sector in textile has shown unprecedented growth. Briefing about the industry, he said the textile sector alone represents 46% of total manufacturing sector and around 40% of total labour force. He informed the delegation that textile exports of US$15.4 billion registered in FY21 are expected to fetch $20 billion by close of the current financial year. He added that performance of textile exports during May this year was highly recommendable recording upsurge of 50% over the last year and it was encouraging to note that the value added sector in textile has shown unprecedented growth. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman APTMA Abdul Rahim Nasir said the textile sector alone represents 46% of total manufacturing sector and around 40% of total labour force. He informed that textile exports of US$15.4 billion registered in FY21 are expected to fetch $20 billion by close of the current financial year. He added that performance of textile exports during May this year was highly recommendable recording upsurge of 50% over the last year and it was encouraging to note that the value added sector in textile has shown unprecedented growth.

Chairman APTMA North Zaman highlighting the effects of GSP plus on Pakistan, he said the GSP plus has boosted Pakistan’s competitiveness and provides edge to Pakistani exports over regional competitors besides increase in employment, investment and up-gradation of technology, enhanced foreign investment and opened window for Pakistani exports especially when China is losing market due to higher cost of production and other factors.

According to him, the facility has also uplifted Pakistan economically, socially and environmentally as compliance to the 27 conventions relating to human rights, environment, labour rights, narcotics control, corruption control, has improved working conditions and image of Pakistan. Meanwhile, he added, compliance with six new conventions was in progress. Zaman added that any withdrawal of GSP Plus is fraught with risks of plummeting Pakistani exports by removing edge and competitiveness for exports and lead to not less than one trillion rupees per annum loss to the industry. Any withdrawal of GSP plus would create massive unemployment, large scale closure of mills and increase in poverty with dominos effect on banking sector as more than 40% of bank loans are obtained by textile sector. Real estate, goods transport and allied industries will suffer adversely causing massive unrest, he added.

In his vote of thanks, Senior Vice Chairman APTMA Kamran Arshad told the visiting EU delegation that Pakistani exporters are heading towards diversification of exports, which requires major overhauling and up-gradation of industry, BMR, Research, Training and HRD especially for SME sector, and continuation of Regionally Competitive Energy Tariff.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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