KARACHI: Ambassador of Belgium Charles Delogne has said that although EU’s GSP Plus for Pakistan has been extended for another four years until 2027 but a new regulation of GSP Plus would come into force much earlier, hence, the business community of Pakistan must make political authorities aware of the fact that Pakistan will have to apply for the new regulation under GSP Plus.

Speaking at a meeting of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), the Belgian Envoy said that GSP+ was more than an agreement signed by EU with those countries which were perceived as likeminded on a certain number of issues, including human rights, labor rights and the environment which was extremely important for a country like Pakistan that badly suffers the negative consequences of climate change.

Belgian envoy further stated that Pakistan was making good use of GSP Plus agreement which has made EU the main trade partner of Pakistan. “2023 was the year when bilateral trade between Belgium and Pakistan remained balanced which was very good as Belgium does not contribute to the payment crises being confronted by Pakistan,” he added.

He said, “As a small country, foreign trade is vital for Belgium. Belgium economy survives on importing goods, transforming them by adding maximum value and then to exporting the same which is why foreign trade and free trade are vital for Belgium.”

Exhibition about Belgian companies held on KCCI premises

President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while welcoming the ambassador, stated that Pakistan remains committed to the complete implementation of the GSP Plus, with exports to the EU surpassing USD 8 billion in the fiscal year 2023 whereas Belgium emerged as one of the largest export destinations within the EU.

He noted that Pakistan’s exports to Belgium amounted to approximately USD 405 million during nine months of current fiscal year from July 2023 to March 2024, which fell short of expectations which have to be elevated to a satisfactory level by capitalizing the existing opportunities for boosting trade between the two countries.

He informed that to facilitate and protect foreign investments, the Government of Pakistan has established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) targeting lucrative sectors including Mining & Minerals, Energy, Agriculture & Livestock, Information Technology, Industry, Tourism and Privatization.

“Belgium companies must explore opportunities within these sectors and consider partnering in joint ventures to bolster bilateral trade, exports & economic collaboration.”

He was of the opinion that initiating sector-specific initiatives could start a new chapter in trade and economic relations between the two nations, hence, the private sectors of Belgium and Pakistan must be encouraged to play a pivotal role in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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