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FAISALABAD: Pakistan must exploit the untapped economic potential of the EU available under the GSP Plus scheme to overcome its current economic crisis, said Thomas Seiler, Deputy Head of EU Mission.

Addressing the business community at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), he underlined the importance of duty-free access of Pakistani products to European markets and said that it has particularly benefited the textile sector of Pakistan. He said that most of the textile mills are using European machinery which helped them to improve the quality of their products.

“We are also working on technology transfer,” he said and hoped that it would pave the way for Pakistani exporters to unlock the huge potential in other sectors in addition to textiles.

He said that Pakistan should now move forward in technology and launch projects like car manufacturing etc. However, in this connection, two sides should collaborate and cooperate with each other. Continuing, Seiler said that the facility of GSP Plus is directly linked with a number of agreements, treaties and protocols already ratified by Pakistan.

He said that the current tenure of GSP Plus is going to expire in December 2023 and the government of Pakistan must apply right now for the extension of this facility. He said that the EU Mission was critically examining the implementation of different treaties.

He said that in view of the current devastating floods in Pakistan, he personally intends to extend it but in the prevailing global scenario the tenure of proposed extension may be restricted to 3-4 years instead of ten years.

He further said that the GSP Plus issue would be discussed in EU parliament during upcoming months of September and October to make a final decision. However, the business community of Faisalabad must pressurize its government to launch aggressive lobbying to win support from maximum EU countries for the continuity of this facility.

He said that the business community should also remain vigilant and seek political support from the other EU member countries instead of depending on France and Germany only. Responding to a question Seiler clarified that business is not a charity, it means profit and Pakistan should also focus on expanding its exports purely on competitive and scientific lines.

He also expressed concern over the floods in Pakistan but added that Europe was also badly affected due to the Russian attack on Ukraine. About poor inflow of FDI from Europe, he said that it was directly linked with the political and economic instability in Pakistan. He also appreciated the proposal to ink an MOU between FCCI and EU on extended economic cooperation.

Earlier Senior Vice President Dr Sajjad Arshad in his address of welcome said that 124 businesses, industrial and commercial associations of this city are linked with the FCCI.

“It has 8,000 members from all sectors of the economy”, he said and added that Faisalabad is centrally located and is the most suitable destination for local and foreign investment. He said that Faisalabad was contributing 20% towards national GDP while its share in total textile export is around 65%.

Commenting about the devastated rains and floods, Dr Sajjad Arshad said that it has caused $ 40 billion losses while many families are still shelter-less and are without food.

He said that Faisalabad Chamber has organised a comprehensive campaign for the restoration of normalcy in the flood hit areas and in this connection, construction material has been dispatched to Kot Addu for the construction of one hundred houses. He also thanked the global community for extending generous help and aid for the flood hit people.

Former executive members Kashif Zia, Abdullah Qadri and executive members Rana Muhammad Asim and Mian Muhammad Tayyab in addition to Muhammad Ali participated in the question-answer session. SVP Dr Sajjad Arshad along with Vice President Haji Muhammad Aslam Bhalli presented FCCI shield to Thomas Seiler, Deputy Head of EU Mission while Abdullah Qadri offered a vote of thanks. Later Thomas Seiler also recorded his impression in the FCCI visitor’s book.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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