The federal government has accelerated its efforts to fulfil the strict conditions of European Union (EU) for ensuring a ten years extension (2024-2034) from EU in its Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) plus status for Pakistan.
According to sources, concerned ministries, in a high-level meeting under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, gave a briefing on the status of on-going GSP-Plus scheme of the European Union and on preparatory work for the revised scheme. The federal government has expedited work in order to ensure a ten years extension from the EU for its GSP plus status.
“The Prime Minister has advised the Ministry of Interior and all provincial governments to accelerate the work to ensure extension in GSP Plus status till 2034,” said sources.
According to sources EU’s GSP Plus status was started in 2014 and will expire on December 31, 2023. Pakistan is earning approximately 6.5 billion euros due to GSP Plus status.
In addition Pakistan will have to sign five new strict conventions in order to secure extension in GSP Plus till 2034.
Sources also informed that Pakistan has so far not ratified the additional conventions for new GSP Plus scheme (2024-2034) including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (individual complaints against state party in ICC), the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (individual complaint against state party in ICCPR-UNHCR)) and the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR (abolition of the death penalty). They said that ratification carries several legal and political implications.
Pakistan has so far made stock of the progress on child labour laws, strengthening of labor inspection regimes, implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs of climate change) and hazardous waste management policies. A wholesome plan has been chalked out and is being implemented including Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G) engagements and initiation of a second round of engagement with EU stakeholders, said sources.
It is further learnt from sources that EU GSP Plus related obligations and compliance are about human rights, labour rights, climate change and governance.
It is pertinent to mention that the government has been encouraging the local business associations to lobby at EU level while the government is also mulling to establish a National Compliance Centre (NCC) for handling EU’s compliance matter regarding GSP Plus status round the year.