Pakistan Should Apply New GSP Plus Regulations: Belgian Envoy

Pakistan Should Apply New GSP Plus Regulations: Belgian Envoy

Karachi, May 20, 2024 – Ambassador of Belgium, Charles Delogne, emphasized the urgent need for Pakistan to comply with the new Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP Plus) regulations during his farewell visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) on Monday.

Despite the extension of the EU’s GSP Plus status for Pakistan until 2027, new regulations will come into force much earlier, necessitating prompt action from Pakistan’s political authorities.

Speaking at the KCCI, Ambassador Delogne highlighted the significance of the GSP Plus, an arrangement that offers preferential trade terms to countries aligned with the EU on critical issues like human rights, labor rights, and environmental standards. He stressed that for Pakistan, a country severely affected by climate change, adhering to these standards is crucial.

Present at the meeting were President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Senior Vice President Altaf A. Ghaffar, Vice President Tanveer Ahmed Barry, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Farooq Afzal, Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz, and KCCI Managing Committee Members.

The Belgian envoy noted Pakistan’s effective utilization of the GSP Plus agreement, which has positioned the EU as Pakistan’s primary trade partner. He remarked on the balanced bilateral trade between Belgium and Pakistan in 2023, which he deemed beneficial as Belgium does not contribute to Pakistan’s payment crises.

“Foreign trade is vital for Belgium,” Delogne said. “Our economy relies on importing goods, adding value to them, and then exporting, making free trade essential for us.”

KCCI President Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, welcoming the ambassador, reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to fully implementing the GSP Plus. He noted that Pakistan’s exports to the EU exceeded $8 billion in fiscal year 2023, with Belgium being one of the largest EU destinations for Pakistani exports. Despite this, exports to Belgium, amounting to approximately $405 million from July 2023 to March 2024, were below expectations. Sheikh emphasized the need to capitalize on existing opportunities to boost trade between the two countries.

Sheikh highlighted the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) by the Pakistani government to attract foreign investments in lucrative sectors such as mining, energy, agriculture, information technology, industry, tourism, and privatization. He encouraged Belgian companies to explore opportunities in these sectors and consider joint ventures to enhance bilateral trade and economic collaboration.

He also advocated for sector-specific initiatives to foster trade and economic relations between Belgium and Pakistan, stressing the importance of private sector involvement. Sheikh identified potential areas for Belgian investment, including agro-food, power generation, oil and gas, infrastructure, textiles, minerals, and pharmaceuticals. He also underscored the need to benefit from Belgian expertise in ports and shipping to enhance Pakistan’s port capacity and efficiency.

Furthermore, Sheikh suggested simplifying customs procedures, improving the ease of doing business, and facilitating SMEs to reduce trade barriers. He called for institutional linkages in the education sector to build capacity in Pakistani universities and boost their global competitiveness. Lastly, he identified tourism, automobile, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, plastics, and metallurgy as potential sectors for joint ventures, encouraging Belgian investors to explore these opportunities.