Pakistan Secures EU’s GSP Plus Status Despite Indian Propaganda

The European Union (EU) extended the General System of Preferences (GSP) plus status for Pakistan, with six new Conventions.

In a statement, the EC said that it expanded its “list of international conventions that need to be complied with,” and added “two additional human rights instruments on the rights of people with disabilities and the rights of the children, two labour rights conventions on labour inspections and tripartite dialogue, and one governance convention on transnational organised crime.”

The EC also added an “urgent withdrawal of preferences procedure when a rapid response is needed in exceptionally grave circumstances in a beneficiary country, such as grave violations of international standards.”

The announcement came after the EU warned Pakistan that it might temporarily withdraw its GSP plus status due to human rights violations.

In April, the European Parliament called for an additional review of Pakistan’s status based on an increase in blasphemy accusations and religious violence.

“A temporary withdrawal of the GSP+ status is believed to be the last resort when all other means of political dialogue and engagement do not produce necessary results,” EC Spokesperson, Miriam Garcia Ferrer, had said.

The EU’s GSP plus program cuts tariffs on Pakistani imports entering the EU to zero, if the country complies with a number of international human rights conventions.

Pakistan received a two-year extension in 2020 after passing an EU review. The bloc’s review committee will review Pakistan’s performance and decide whether to award another extension in 2022.

In addition to new conventions, the EC’s proposal also lowers product graduation thresholds by ten percentage points so that large manufacturers leave more space in sectors where they are competitive.

It also introduced means to withdraw GSP status from countries that violate environmental sustainability conventions and extended the list of conventions that GSP plus countries must ratify beyond the current seven.

The current GSP regulation is set to expire on 31 December 2023, after which the new GSP regulation will apply from 1 January 2024 to 2034.

Previously, the Foreign Office (FO) has rubbished Indian media’s claims that Pakistan’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status was being withdrawn, calling such reports “fabricated” and a continuation of New Delhi’s “malicious propaganda” against Islamabad.

The rebuttal came after the Indian news agency reported on July 26 that the European Parliament had moved to withdraw Pakistan’s GSP+ status. The FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri, had stated that the news item was “fabricated and a continuation of India’s malicious propaganda against Pakistan”.

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