Wed, 06 Jul 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 3 (ANI): Tightening sanctions on Pakistan's compliance under GSP Plus, the European Union is proposing to add five new conventions to reinforce the social, labour, environmental and climate dimensions of the scheme, as the current framework expires at the end of 2023.

Through a statement issued on April 21, 2022, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) appealed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and commerce minister Naveed Qamar to get personally involved in this issue of 'national importance'.

The country would lose an annual export value of around $3 billion if the government fails to ensure a GSP Plus extension for them beyond 2023, reported local media.

The new Pakistan government under Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has inherited a lymph economy and topping on the ice is the below-par performance of its industries.

Somehow, the GSP plus facility granted for ten years (2014-23), allowed Pakistan duty-free access to over 66% of its exports to the European Union (EU), reported local media.

However, EU is now proposing to add five new conventions to reinforce the social, labour, environmental and climate dimensions of the scheme, keeping in view the current framework that expires at the end of 2023.

The additional conventions pertain to the rights of persons with disabilities, involvement of children in armed conflict, labour inspection, transnational organised crime, etc, reported European Times.

The planned inclusion of fresh conventions is expected to weaken the already frail condition of Pakistani institutions in supporting human rights in the country. Pakistan's poor track record in fulfilling the original set of 27 conditions provides no hope either.

The panic is also palpable in the frantic activities of various Pakistani missions abroad. As the next review is underway, Pak Embassies in Europe have already begun lobbying in host countries for the continuation of the scheme.

The Pak Mission in Brussels was also seen working for reviving the exchange of parliamentary visits and parliamentary contacts. Islamabad is also trying to widen its outreach among individual European policymakers, reported European Times.

Meanwhile, local NGOs, academics, trade unions and civil society groups in Pakistan continue to be critical of labour conditions including bonded labour, human trafficking, etc which point to the large gap in Pakistan's pledge to implement the core conventions and actual compliance.

On the grounds of continued human rights abuses in Pakistan, a London-based media outlet hosted a program earlier, calling out for suspension of Pakistan's favoured GSP trading status with the European Commission which was approved by the EU parliament in April 2021.

Pakistan's abysmal human rights record was inconsistent with its image makeover efforts with the European Union.

With such contradiction in place, Pakistan's aim of easily securing another extension of GSP Plus for its exporters appears difficult to achieve, European Times reported. (ANI)

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