LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on Thursday urged the textile sector to take full advantage of the Generalised System Preferences (GSP) Plus status.
He was addressing the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) in Lahore from Brussels where 406 EU parliamentarians voted in favour of Pakistan while 182 votes were cast against the granting of GSP Plus to Pakistan. Pakistan only needed 381 votes or simple majority to qualify for this status.
Only 580 members out of the 780 member EU parliamentarians exercised their right to vote on granting GSP plus status to Pakistan and nine other countries.
“I urge the textile sector to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Sarwar while congratulating the nation, APTMA and all textile stakeholders. He attributed the success to the untiring efforts of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the EU Munawar Bhatti, leaders of different parties in the EU parliament, particularly David Martin of S and D Group and Christopher Caspier of EU Peoples Party.
Sources in Brussels told The News that securing GSP plus status required immense lobbying and persuasion on the part of Governor Punjab Muhammad Sarwar as India was discreetly lobbying against Pakistan.
“The Punjab governor had been stationed in Brussels for the last five days to use his clout as former British Member of Parliament to push the vote in Pakistan’s favour,” the sources added.
The EU parliament has to formally approve the GSP plus status that EU Commission approved to be granted to a number of countries including Pakistan. Once approved by the European Commission the vote on any legislation in the EU parliament is a formality. The recommendations of the EU commission can be rejected by parliament only by simple majority. The composition of 780 members EU is based partly on the population of each country. Germany, France, Italy, England, Spain and Poland account for 426 of the EU parliament’s members. The remaining 22 EU members hold 354 seats in the EU assembly. Pakistan enjoyed the support of Germany, Italy and England and while France was initially leaning towards voting in favour of Pakistan, Indian lobbyists somehow convince the country to vote against Pakistan at the last moment.
Meanwhile, Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Yasin Siddik expressed his extreme joy on the news, terming it a big success for Pakistan and good omen for the country’s export oriented industry. Yasin said GSP-Plus status would prove to be of great benefit to Pakistan’s textile manufacturers and exporters who would now have duty free access to 27 European countries and enjoy a level-playing field with regional competitors. He said that Pakistani manufacturers and exporters were finding it hard to compete with countries like Bangladesh etc who already had duty-free access to European markets and were getting 11.5 per cent and above tariff cuts. “Pakistan can earn an additional 500million to a billion dollars per year through GSP Plus status,” he said, adding that the facility would provide duty free access to 3,500 products.
The Aptma chairman appealed to the government to improve the supply of gas and electricity to the textile industry in order to realise the full potential of GSP-Plus. Yasin expressed hope that the textile and garment units which are running under capacity would soon start running at full capacity and thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for his efforts to secure the granting of GSP Plus status.
Meanwhile, trade and industry also welcomed the European Parliament’s decision to grant duty free market access to Pakistan. In a statement issued here, LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah said that approval of GSP Plus status has proved that Pakistan has implemented all international conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance to the satisfaction of the European Parliament.
The LCCI acting president said that exporters from various industries in Pakistan were anxiously hoping for access to European markets, which promises huge potential for multiplying the country’s current exports. Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association Chairman Shahzad Azam Khan said that this is a great opportunity for the clothing sector of Pakistan and hoped that exporters would increase the per unit value of their already successful products to share the zero rating facility benefits with the European buyers. Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front also congratulated the government for securing GSP Plus status and hoped that the government would facilitate the export-oriented industry to fulfill all foreign orders.
President Mamnoon Hussain also welcomed greater trade access of Pakistani products to European markets through GSP Plus. The president said that EU’s GSP Plus Scheme would not only further strengthen our trade relations with the member countries of the European Union but would also significantly help strengthening our economy through greater trade, generation of economic opportunities and creation of more jobs for the people.
Meanwhile, the office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the leadership of the Businessmen Group, while welcoming the approval of the GSP Plus status, extended deep gratitude to the Pakistani government for making efforts towards acquiring it, a statement said. Siraj Kassam Teli, chairman of the Businessmen Group and former president of the KCCI, KCCI President Abdullah Zaki, Senior Vice President Muffasar A Malik, Vice President Muhammad Idrees and the Managing Committee members have welcomed the approval of GSP Plus status to Pakistan, which will certainly pave the way for enhanced exports to Europe. They said that it will give a boost to Pakistani exports by at least $2 billion, keeping in view the enormous demand for Pakistani products in the European markets.
The Pakistani manufacturers and exporters must also focus on producing high quality products according to the European standards so that they could not only maintain their market share but take it to new heights. They advised the government to facilitate the business community, particularly the export-oriented industry by ensuring adequate infrastructure along with uninterrupted power supply so that the exporters could play their role in boosting Pakistan’s exports to Europe, which will certainly help in earning the much-needed foreign exchange for the country, besides efficiently dealing with the economic crisis.
Source: The NEWS