Pakistan has been given the green light on GSP+

Pakistan has been given the green light on GSP+

A vote by the European Parliament's International Trade Committee this week to allow preferential market access to a group of developing countries has paved the way for Pakistan to be granted GSP+ status. 

Pakistan already benefits from reduced tariffs under the overall Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), but the latest move offers the possibility for Pakistani companies to benefit from zero tariffs on all products exported to the European Union (EU) from 1 January 2014. 

To qualify for GSP+, Pakistan will also need to prove that it is serious about implementing international human rights, labour rights and environment and good governance conventions.

The International Trade Committee supported a proposal by the EU Commission proposal to put forward a Unique Delegated Act granting GSP+ status to 10 countries.

Included are Armenia, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Mongolia, Paraguay and Peru - but it is Pakistan that has caused most concern among EU textile and clothing companies.

Industry group Euratex had strongly opposed the move, arguing that it did not allow an effective assessment of each country’s individual application.

In particular, it said that Pakistan’s application did not fulfil the necessary conditions, citing its “extremely poor” record on women’s and children’s rights, and on respecting religious minorities.

“The European Parliament had the possibility to ensure that GSP+ status is given to the countries that are effectively respecting the necessary conditions by bindingly committing to ratify and implement 27 conventions in the area of human rights, environment and labour rights, allowing that each application be judged on its own individual merits,” said Euratex president Alberto Paccanelli.

“Unfortunately, by approving the Commission proposal the European Parliament has prevented a country-by-country evaluation, allowing Pakistan to obtain a preferential treatment that it would have not obtained under different circumstances.”

It added: "This preferential status will give an additional competitive edge to Pakistan’s textile and clothing industry that is already among the top most competitive worldwide and it will create an additional imbalance in the EU market in detriment of EU T&C companies and in favour of one of their major competitors."