Pakistan must exploit untapped potential of EU: Thomas Seiler

FAISALABAD: Deputy Head of EU Mission Mr. Thomas Seiler said on Saturday that Pakistan must exploit untapped economic potential of the European Union (EU) under the GSP Plus Scheme to overcome its current economic crisis.

Addressing the business community at FCCI, he underlined the importance of duty-free access to Pakistani products to European markets and said that it had particularly benefited the textile sector of Pakistan. He said that most of the textile mills were using European machinery which helped them to improve the quality of their products.

“We are also working on technology transfer”, he said and hoped that it would pave the way for Pakistani exporters to unlock the huge potential in other sectors in addition to textiles. He said that Pakistan should now move forward in technology and launch projects like car manufacturing etc. However, in this connection, two sides should collaborate and cooperate with each other.

Continuing Mr. Seiler said the facility of GSP Plus was directly linked with a number of agreements, treaties and protocols already ratified by Pakistan. He said the current tenure of GSP Plus was going to expire in December 2023 and the government of Pakistan must apply right now for the extension of this facility. He said the EU Mission was critically examining the implementation of different treaties.

He said that in view of the current devastating floods in Pakistan, he personally intends to extend it but in the prevailing global scenario the tenure of proposed extension may be restricted to 3-4 years instead of ten years.

He further said the GSP Plus issue would be discussed in EU parliament during coming months of September and October to make a final decision. However, the business community of Faisalabad must pressurize its government to launch aggressive lobbying to win support from maximum EU countries for the continuity of this facility. He said the business community should also remain vigilant and seek political support from the other EU member countries instead of depending on France and Germany only.

Responding to a question Mr. Seiler clarified that business was not a charity, it means profit and Pakistan should also focus on expanding its exports purely on competitive and scientific lines.

The Deputy Head of Mission regretted over the desecration of holy Quran in some countries of Europe and said that the EU was making concerted efforts to discourage this tendency. He also expressed concern over floods in Pakistan but added that Europe was also badly affected due to the Russian attack on Ukraine.

He noted with concern, the violations of basic human rights and said that Pakistan must improve this situation for the continuity of GSP Plus facility. About poor inflow of FDI from Europe, he said that it was directly linked with the political and economic instability in Pakistan.

He also appreciated the proposal to ink an MoU between FCCI and EU on extended economic cooperation.

Earlier in his welcome address, FCCI Senior Vice President Dr Sajjad Arshad said that 124 business, industrial and commercial associations of this city were linked with the FCCI. “It has 8,000 members from all sectors of the economy”, he said and added that Faisalabad was centrally located and was the most suitable destination for local and foreign investment. He said that Faisalabad was contributing 20% towards national GDP while its share in total textile export is around 65%.

Commenting about the devastating rains and floods, Dr. Sajjad Arshad said that it had caused $40 billion losses while many families were still shelterless and were without food. He said that Faisalabad Chamber had organized a comprehensive campaign for the restoration of normalcy in the flood hit areas and in this connection, construction material had been dispatched to Kot Addu for the construction of one hundred houses.

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