LAHORE - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Wednesday stressed the need for effective trade diplomacy with European Union to ensure GSP Plus status by 2014.

The LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar was talking to Ambassador-designate to EU Munawar Saeed Bhatti during the latter’s visit to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad and former Presidents Iftikhar Ali Malik and Mian Muzaffar Ali also spoke in two hours long meeting.  Farooq Iftikhar called for a strategy to enhance trade-related technical cooperation with relevant partners on both sides in order to optimize the potential benefits of the post GSP Plus Scenario.   

The LCCI President said that Pakistani textiles, Engineering components, Tractors, food items and leather products have a huge potential in European Union therefore these products must be focused on to earn much needed foreign exchange for the country.

He said that well consulted trade strategy could jack-up Pakistan-EU trade to over 12 billion Euros by 2015.

Farooq Iftikhar said that Pakistan’s exports to EU recorded only 0.3% increase but imports surged by more than 19% in from 2010 to 2011 and this trend needs to be reversed through effective collaboration between public and private sector on both sides. He said that EU Council of Ministers and pressure/interest groups throughout Europe need to be engaged in a strategic economic, trade, investment, social and security dialogue with Pakistan.

“Pakistan can qualify for the GSP Plus status by 2014.  It is anticipated this will increase Pakistani exports by 20%.  We need to take a holistic approach to fulfill the requirements to qualify for GSP plus status.

The LCCI President urged the Ambassador-designate to help private sector networking with relevant sector-level counterparts in EU in order to successfully increase market penetration.  

The LCCI Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad said that the relevant commercial sections of Pakistani High Commissions and Embassies should also be directed to prepare calendar of trade fairs and exhibitions held in EU and timely disseminate the information to the chambers of commerce and sector-specific associations. They should also facilitate Pakistani delegations in terms of exposure and networking with their counterparts.

He said that the EU is actively funding various projects in infrastructure development, education, healthcare and etc. in developing countries around the world. 

Pakistan mission in EU need to mobilize relevant decision-makers in EU for social development funding in Pakistan. He said that all energies should be spent to dispel the negative image of Pakistan.