Lahore - Punjab Board of Investment and Trade Chief Executive Officer Ilyas Ghauri on Thursday said that taking benefit of the GSP-Plus facility, Pakistan’s exports to the European Union (EU) witnessed an increase of about 20 per cent during calendar year of 2014 as compared to last year despite severe energy crisis in the country. However, exports to other destinations were affected seriously due power shortage issues.

Talking to The Nation, he said that the EU granted Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Plus status to Pakistan in January this year for ten years. He said that during Jan-Sept 2013 total exports to the EU stood at $4.76 billion against $5.97 billion during Jan-Sept 2014 – an increase of 19.9 per cent.

The Human Right agencies and the EU countries had raised concerns over the government decision of lifting ban on death moratorium but we have convinced them and now they are satisfied fully, he added. He stated that this step was taken after due consideration post the horrific 16th December Peshawar incident where hundreds of innocent school children were killed ruthlessly by a terrorist group.

He said that the government was expecting $1 billion increase in exports to the EU in one year due to the GSP-Plus facility. However, “the country achieved near one billion dollar growth in nine months. Highlighting the impact of GSP Plus on textile products export, he said during Jan-Sept 2013, the home textile exports to the EU stood at $849 million while during Jan-Sept 2014 the same were $1.08 billion –showing a growth of 27.78 per cent.

Ilyas Ghauri said that the GSP-Plus status was granted to Pakistan by 27 countries for the government’s resolve for good governance and sustainable development.

PBIT is coordinating with different government agencies to implement and ratify 27 international conventions related to HR, Environment, labour and women development in Punjab to ensure the continuity of GSP Plus status.

Meanwhile, a Cabinet Committee meeting on GSP Plus was held under the chairmanship of Minister for Industries Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the initiatives taken by different departments pertaining to the 27 conventions and to formulate a mutually acceptable way forward. Among the participants were Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Minister Labor & Human Rights, Member National Assembly, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar , secretaries of concerned departments and Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) officials. PBIT being the focal body for GSP Plus at provincial level convened the meeting.  Chief Executive Officer PBIT welcomed the participants and commenced the meeting with a brief overview of the agendas to be discussed. The decisions taken in the 9th Cabinet Committee meeting were highlighted with current progress regarding their implementation. A brief presentation regarding GSP Media Cell Strategy was made where ways to build and promote the positive image of the country internationally, along with the impediments faced were emphasized.