Improve human rights condition to continue GSP plus status, EU delegation tells Pakistan

A European parliamentary delegation during its visit to Pakistan has raised concern over the situation of human rights in the country and asked it to strengthen the measures for continuing its Generalized Preferential System Plus (GSP-Plus) status under which Pakistan exports get preferential access to the European Market

Nov 05, 2021
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Improve human rights condition to continue GSP plus status

A European parliamentary delegation during its visit to Pakistan has raised concern over the situation of human rights in the country and asked it to strengthen the measures for continuing its Generalized Preferential System Plus (GSP-Plus) status under which Pakistan exports get preferential access to the European Market.  

In the last fiscal (FY 2020-21), bilateral trade between Pakistan and the EU stood around $10 billion, including $7 billion in exports from Pakistan. The country’s textile sector, one of its main export-orientated sectors employing over hundreds of thousand people, is totally dependent on the EU market. 

In April this year, the EU parliament adopted a resolution that called for the review of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status amid the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, particularly against minorities. The GSP Plus status, granted in 2014, benefited several sectors of Pakistan, allowing almost zero-tariff access to two-thirds of its total exports to the EU. 

The four-member EU delegation raised the issue of the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, shrinking space for independent media and civil rights activists, extremism, and increasing attacks on the country’s religious minorities, reported The Express Tribune. 

The EU linked the extension of status with the improvement of conditions in certain issues related to human rights. During the meetings, Pakistani officials urged the delegation not to drop the GSP Plus status, arguing extremist forces would otherwise gain upperhand in the country. 

The Pakistan government came under the radar of the EU after violent public protests by extremist and fundamentalist religious organizations seeking the expulsion of the French envoy over controversial comments by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Furthermore, some recent controversial legislation, intending to control media, irked the EU which has conditioned the extension of the GSP status on its human rights records. Less than fair trials of religious minorities, often implicated falsely, in the cases of alleged blasphemy incidents have also come to light. 

(SAM) 

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