ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday he hoped the European Union's (EU) preferential trade arrangement with Pakistan known as the GSP+ would continue beyond 2023.
Sharif was meeting with Dr. Riina Kionka, the newly appointed Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan.
The Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) was first institutionalized in 1971 and has since been a trade and development policy instrument which allows the EU to remove duties from products exported by vulnerable developing countries.
Under the GSP+ status, designated countries get special access to the European market after making commitments to implement several international conventions on human rights, environmental protection and governance.
Pakistan’s GSP+ status is set to expire on December 31, 2023.
In a meeting with ambassador Kionka PM Sharif underlined that Pakistan attached "high importance" to its relations with the EU, as well as its historically close and cooperative bilateral ties with EU member states.
“He [PM Sharif] credited the current GSP Plus scheme with enhancing the mutually beneficial trading ties between Pakistan and EU and hoped that Pakistan would continue to be part of the arrangement beyond 2023,” a statement from the PM Office said.
The EU is Pakistan’s second biggest trade partner, accounting for 14.3 percent of the country’s total trade in 2020 and absorbing 28 percent of its total exports.
“Prime Minister expressed the confidence that the upcoming visits to Pakistan by the EU Parliamentary delegations as well as the next rounds of political and security Dialogues under EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan would pave the way for more substantive cooperation between the two sides,” the statement added.
“Dr. Riina Kionka thanked the Prime Minister for receiving her and expressed her resolve to work for further deepening of EU-Pakistan relations during her tenure in Islamabad,” the statement said.
Last year in April, the European Parliament moved a resolution against Pakistan, seeking an immediate review of its eligibility for GSP+ status over what it called violence and discrimination against religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, as well as a crackdown on media.