European Union’s Special Incentive Arrangement for Good Governance and Sustainable Development (GSP-Plus) is a pivotal mechanism for improving economic relations between Pakistan and the EU whereby Pakistan is given zero-rated tariff preferences on almost 91 percent of tariff lines to the EU market.
GSP+ incentive provides many Pakistani export-oriented products, including garments, bed linen, terry towels, hosiery, leather, sports, and surgical goods, etc., duty-free access in the EU market.
The EU GSP Plus is linked with the implementation of 27 UN Conventions on human rights, labor rights, climate change, governance, and narcotics control. After every two years, a review is carried out by the European Union to ensure the commitment of the beneficiary countries to effectively implement these 27 UN Conventions. So far, three successful biennial reviews have been concluded in 2016, 2018, and 2020 respectively. The Fourth Biennial Review (2020 – 2021) has commenced, and Pakistan has submitted its responses to the EU on the List of Issues and follow-up questions on September 15, 2020, and September 15, 2021, respectively. Now the EU monitoring mission is expected to visit Pakistan in November 2021.
The European Commission has published the new proposed legislation for GSP Scheme on 22 September 2021. Under the new GSP Scheme, the beneficiary countries, including Pakistan, will have to ratify and implement five new International Conventions, in addition to the previous 27 UN Conventions, thus bringing the total number to 32 International Conventions.
The Advisor to PM on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razzaq Dawood, said:
EU is our biggest export partner, and we have excellent relations with all EU Member States. If you see our exports country-wise, EU Member Countries will be in the top ten export destinations. As the 4th Biennial Review of the GSP Plus incentive is currently underway, I am confident that due to the positive initiatives by the government it will be completed. The five new International Conventions in the new GSP scheme are in line with the government’s priorities, and we are already taking steps to ensure labor rights, child rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities. I can assure you that the Government of Pakistan is already committed to the cause.
On the issue of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Advisor to PM on Commerce further mentioned that Pakistan has joined the international community in celebrating World Environment Day 2021 as its global host on 5 June 2021, which carried special significance as it also witnessed the formal launch of the ‘United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.’
The observance of World Environment Day 2021 on the theme of ‘ecosystem restoration’ is fully aligned with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Green Vision, as manifested in Pakistan’s flagship ‘ecosystem restoration initiative.’ Pakistan is already in the midst of one of the world’s most ambitious efforts to expand and restore its forests, having already planted a billion trees as part of its 10 Billion Tree Project.
The legislative proposal for the new GSP scheme will now be submitted to the European Council and Parliament for detailed deliberations before adoption. Once the European Council and Parliament adopt the new scheme, Pakistan, like any other beneficiary country of the GSP scheme, will have to file a new application for the new GSP scheme and ratify and implement 32 International Conventions.