EU’s monitoring mission arrives in Pakistan to assess GSP+ implementation status

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis in 2021 “For five decades, the EU GSP has supported vulnerable countries to grow sustainably by giving them preferential access to the EU market

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ISLAMABAD: A European Union (EU) monitoring mission comprising officials from the European External Action Service (EEAS) arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday to assess the effective implementation of 27 international conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory.

The delegation also includes the European Commission’s Directorates-General for Trade and Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, said a statement issued by the EU’s mission in Pakistan.

The GSP+ (Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus) provides wide-ranging tariff preferences for imports to the EU from vulnerable developing countries to support poverty eradication, sustainable development, and their participation in the global economy and reinforce good governance.

Eligible countries like Pakistan can export goods to the EU market at zero duties for 66% of tariff lines. This preferential status is conditional on GSP+ countries demonstrating tangible progress on the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, climate change, and good governance.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis in 2021 “For five decades, the EU GSP has supported vulnerable countries to grow sustainably by giving them preferential access to the EU market. It has also helped beneficiary countries to diversify their economies and create jobs. It has also galvanized beneficiary countries into improving human and labor rights, the environment, and good governance”.

Vice President Josep Borrell Fontelles said, “The GSP scheme is all about the EU’s and Pakistan’s joint commitment to sustainable development.”

According to the statement, GSP+ has been very beneficial for Pakistani businesses, increasing their exports to the EU market by 65% since the country joined GSP+ in 2014. The European Single Market, with over 440 million consumers, is Pakistan’s most important destination.

Pakistan exports worth EUR 5.4 billion (approx. PKR 1.2 trillion), including garments, bed linen, terry towels, hosiery, leather, sports, and surgical goods.

During the mission, meetings with the government, the UN Country Team, International Labour Organization (ILO), business and civil society representatives, and other stakeholders will occur. The mission’s findings will be part of the next GSP report, which will be presented to the European Parliament and the Council towards the end of 2022, said a statement.

The European Union continuously monitors the implementation of relevant 27 international conventions drawing inter alia on the reports and information by the UN and other international agencies that are the custodian of the respective convention.

The EU regularly sends monitoring missions to assess the situation on the ground and subsequently reflect its evaluation in the publicly available report to the European Parliament and the EU Member States in the Council. So far, three biennial reviews have been concluded in 2016, 2018, and 2020, respectively.

The current GSP framework is coming to an end in December 2023. The legislative process on its successor for 2024-2033 is ongoing.

Apart from Pakistan, the EU currently unilaterally grants GSP+ tariff concessions to Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan.

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