H.E. MR. JEAN-FRANCOIS CAUTAIN Ambassador of European Union in Pakistan
Excellency Mr. Pervaiz Malik – Commerce Minister, Excellencies, Representatives of FPCCI, APTMA, Evolve Business Publication Pakistan, Distinguished guests, I would like to begin by appreciating the organizers for commemorating the EU by organising this THANK EU event today. I am very happy to see that the EU-Pakistan cooperation is being acknowledged by the business community today. I had to say a lot of things in regard to GSP+
but I think colleagues especially the one from Ministry of Commerce has elaborated on the practical aspects of the GSP regime. Let me begin with the EU cooperation with Pakistan stems from the Five Year Engagement Plan which concludes with the end of this year. We are already at an advanced stage of finalising the Strategic Engagement Plan which will soon be a milestone for our continuous broader relationship with Pakistan – broader relationship which will cover stronger cooperation in all spheres including political, trade, science and technology, climate change, security and many more. In trade relations, GSP is indeed an innovative scheme. If Pakistan continues to take advantage of the greater market access to the EU and to implement the 27 International Conventions covered by the scheme, it will not only bring benefit in the form of economic growth; it will also help Pakistan improve the rights of its citizens. And these two aspects are mutually reinforcing. Compliance with the Conventions will generate better economic opportunities and vice versa.
It is truly a win-win.
The statistics show that Pakistani exports to the EU have considerably increased in the four years, GSP+ has been in effect. The cumulative increase since 2013 to 2016 was over 38%. In terms of volume, Pakistans exports to the EU increased to 6.2 billion Euro in 2016 up from 4.5 billion Euro in 2013. In a nutshell, the GSP+ has helped Pakistan boost its export to the EU at a time when exports to rest of the world are decreasing. Pakistans usage of GSP+ concession has been above 95% since 2014 but the only limitation is that this increase has not reflected in diversification in Pakistans export base which remains highly concentrated in textiles (and garments i.e. over 70%).
This proves that the strong potential is there, provided the industry is able to avail itself of the benefits with improved energy supply, a transparent tax structure and stable international currency market. Now let me come to the obligations part: The EU is obliged under the GSP Regulation to submit a report to the European Parliament
and the Council on the functioning of the GSP scheme, once every two years. The report details beneficiary countries ratification, reporting, and effective implementation of the relevant conventions. The first such report was presented in January 2016, which delivered a balanced view on Human Rights, Labour Rights as well as Environment and Governance. The next report is due
shortly in January 2018 and is being finalised these days. I am happy to note that some good progress has been made since GSP+ came into effect in January 2014. However, in the area of human rights, Pakistan has submitted the outstanding reports to most of the UN bodies; established the Treaty Implementation Cell, established the National
Commission on Human Rights, adopted the National Plan of Action on Human Rights and put in place new legislation on human rights.
All these measures are promising and reflect the stated intention of the Government to implement the UN Conventions pertaining to Human Rights in the country. If implementation of these measures is followed without disruption, the situation of human rights will I am sure improve in the years to come. This is a positive step but it is also an indication that some things need to be done in the areas of access to justice, womens rights, childrens rights, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression. It is true that not all these issues can be resolved over night, but the EU has highlighted the need for continued tangible improvements over the 10 year life span of GSP+. The EU is ready to do its part. We have prepared an exclusive human rights programme to support the Government and the statutory bodies. We hope that this programme can come online anytime soon. I would like to pass on one very important message to the audience. We have discussed how rights based approach can benefit trade via improved market access for Pakistan. Equally important is the Fair Trade. It means that trading partnerships are based on reciprocal benefits and mutual respect; that prices paid to producers reflect the work they do; that producers share decision making power; that national health, safety, and wage laws are enforced; and that products are environmentally sustainable and conserve natural resources. I would like to appreciate the strong involvement of business community, civil society and media particularly the EVOLVE Business Publication Pakistan for organising this event. The EU Delegation looks forward to cooperate closely with all of you on this file, also in the
future, for the benefit of the people of Pakistan. Thank you all for your attention.