The European Parliament is this week set to vote on plans by the European Union (EU) to waive duties on some imports from Pakistan - the majority of which are textiles, apparel, and footwear - for two years.

The vote on Thursday (13 August) itself comes more than two years after the EU first suggested temporarily lifting duties on the 75 products in a move intended to help the country recover from massive floods in 2010. Initial requests were made by the EU in November 2010; and the move was approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in February this year.

The measures will run from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013, and will apply to products including cotton yarn and fabrics, jackets, T-shirts, anoraks, trousers, shorts, nightwear and underwear.

But industry group Euratex (the European Apparel and Textile Confederation) says the measure "deliberately undermines the interests of a whole sector of the European economy in favour of one of its fiercest competitors."

It points out that the so-called emergency measures come almost two years after the floods, and describes them as "outdated and senseless" in the current economic and financial climate.

Euratex president Alberto Paccanelli is urging members of parliament to take into account "the difficult economic situation facing Europe and in particular some of the European countries that risk of being more negatively affected by the increasing imports coming from Pakistan".

Pakistan's textile and clothing industry already benefits from government assistance, Euratex says, pointing out that this includes "drawback of taxes that can reach up to 4% of the FOB value of exports, loans at reduced rates, reimbursements on social security taxes and incentive schemes that favour the creation of large export companies".

Pakistan is the fourth largest textile supplier to the EU, and in some of the products for which a waiver is proposed already accounts for more than 80% of imports from outside EU member states. The country's exports to the EU have grown from EUR2.22bn in 2005 to EUR3.22bn in 2011 - a rise of 45%.

Euratex has also noted that the main Pakistani exporters to the EU are large, state-of-the-art companies, and that the waiver will "exclusively profit these companies and not the poor populations that suffered from the floods in 2010".