The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) promotes economic growth and development in the developing world by helping these countries to increase and diversify their trade. The GSP program provides additional benefits for products from least developed countries. It removes import duties from products coming into the European Union market from vulnerable developing countries.

This helps developing countries to alleviate poverty and create jobs based on international values and principles, including labour and human rights. Almost 50 years ago, the United Nations conference on trade and development asked developed countries to help developing countries to integrate into the world economy.

These views were expressed by the Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education, and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali. He was addressing a lecture on “The EU GSP Plus Status for Pakistan and Child Labour: Compliances and Compulsions” at the Area Study Centre for Europe, in the University of Karachi.

He mentioned that about a dozen of countries have GSP mechanisms in place. It is widely recognized as the most progressive in terms of coverage and benefits. “The EU is the largest exporting partner of Pakistan mainly because Pakistani products have duty-free access to EU on 91 per cent tariff lines under EU’s special incentive arrangements for good governance and sustainable development.”

Pakistan European Union Flag

He informed the audience that Pakistan’s GSP+ status was extended by the EU with six new conventions introduced. He said that the new conventions pertain to greater accessibility for people with a physical disability, the eradication of child labour, and environmental safety. He shared that in March 2020, the EU extended Pakistan’s GSP+ status till 2024.

Karamat Ali added that Pakistan’s exports had increased by 60 per cent, making the EU the most important destination for Pakistani goods. In order to maintain the trade preferences under GSP+ beyond 2023, the EU is incorporating seven more conventions for making countries eligible to apply for the next GSP+ status for 2024 to 2033.

He observed that Pakistan can further enhance its export by taking maximum advantage of GSP+. The proposals will now be analyzed and revised by the EU parliament. The final new regulation is planned to be agreed upon in 2022, sufficiently ahead of the expiry of the current regulations.

Meanwhile, Professor Dr Uzma Shujaat of the Area Study Centre for Europe stress the need of good governance is necessary for human development and the elimination of all kind of injustices as it forms a well-functioning public sector that follows the standards of transparency, participation, ownership, and accountability at a collective level.

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