ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Industry Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said that the government was encouraging the industrialists and exporters to take benefit of GSP Plus status given by the European Union which could raise Pakistan’s exports by $1 billion annually.
The Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) provided concessions on about 6,000 tariff lines, while Pakistan had currently around 150 tariff lines currently. This was an opportunity as well as a challenge for the government and exporters to enhance their export products, he said addressing a press conference.
Khurram said, “This is an opportunity as well as a challenge for the government and traders to diversify their export basket and expand their capacity to boost exports.” It was now up to the exporters that how they could exploit the opportunity arisen due to the GSP Plus status, he added. All the export consignments to European markets would be treated according to the GSP scheme from January 1, 2014, when it would come into effect, he said.
The Commerce Minister said the government was encouraging the industrialists and exporters to take benefit of the scheme. The textile manufacturers could particularly exploit the scheme if they switched to garment making, he added. He said less energy was consumed by garment industry with a lot of jobs, particularly for women. This would not only help overcome job problems but also empower women, he remarked.
Khurram said there was a need for diversification in agro food processing, pharmaceutical and leather garments. He said timely and coordinated efforts by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce, his visits and those of Punjab Chief Minister of the European Union countries, and lobbying by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar helped earn the GSP+ Status for the country.
Khurram Dastgir said the democratically elected government under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had made efforts for the GSP Plus status. The process started in March 15 by filing application with the European Union.
Secretary Commerce, Qasim Niaz said that Pakistan has ratified 27 Conventions as a precondition of GSP plus status but added that the EU is well aware that no country implements the Conventions in their entirety. “Some EU countries acknowledged that some of the Conventions have not been implemented by some European countries,” Qasim added. Answering a question, Secretary Commerce stated that from January 1, 2014, GSP plus status applications can be filed.
Dastgir said as China would no longer be eligible for GSP status Chinese textile companies are showing a keen interest in Pakistan. He said one Chinese company has purchased 52 percent shares in a Pakistani textile mill and there is also Chinese interest in investing up to $2 billion in the textile sector.
Answering a question, Secretary Commerce said that the USA has linked GSP status with signing of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the two counties. According to him, the US has also advised Pakistani industry to move towards diversification.