The European Union (EU) organized the EU Pakistan Business Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) on Wednesday as a part of its efforts to support Pakistani SMEs to access opportunities in the European Single Market and maximize the benefit of GSP+ scheme.
The event was attended by representatives of the government of Pakistan, EU member states, and local SMEs from four broad sectors – fans, auto parts, light engineering, rice, fruits, and dairy, sports, and surgical goods, hosiery, garments, value-added textile, and leather. The government representatives included CEO Small and Medium Enterprise Authority (SMEDA), Hashim Raza, and CEO Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT), Erfa Iqbal.
Speakers focused on the importance of SMEs and their role in value addition. The participants were informed how SMEs could benefit from the EU’s GSP+ scheme, providing two-thirds of tariff lines duty-free access to the EU market with the rest on preferential duties.
The EU-Pakistan Business Forum aimed to provide opportunities for both EU and Pakistani businesses to work together to become engines of development and partnership and contribute to enhancing bilateral trade.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Pakistani economy consists of almost 3.3 million SMEs. These consist of service providers, manufacturing units, and start-ups. SMEs make up over 30% of Pakistan’s GDP, account for approximately 25% of export generation, and provide over 70% industrial employment. While in the EU, Europe’s 25 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy. SMEs provide two out of three industrial jobs in the EU.
The Business Forum aimed to play a key role in bringing together SME’s from the EU and Pakistan to enhance their export orientation, collaboration in technology transfer, and promotion of businesses.
EU Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara, said,
In Lahore, we have managed to bring together SMEs working in diverse sectors from across Punjab. This diverse range of products, which are covered under GSP+, represent a huge opportunity for Pakistani SMEs to allow them to fully benefit from GSP+ boost trade and strengthen bilateraltrade for a prosperous Pakistan. Through this forum, we are trying to help create linkages between EU and Pakistani SMEs to understand their challenges and help overcome them – with a particular focus on technology transfer. With the strong involvement of the business community today and continued engagement with the Government, through the EU-Pakistan Business Forum we hope to develop initiatives, build capacity and provide technical assistance to support the SME development process in Pakistan. I remain confident that together we can expand the benefit of GSP+ boost trade and ultimately allow Pakistan to take full advantage of GSP+.
The final event of the First EU Pakistan Business Forum will be held in Karachi next month.