ISLAMABAD: (Parliament Times) The European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara has stressed the need for product diversity and more value-addition to exploit the full potential of market access to the countries under GSP Plus regime.
She was talking to All Pakistan Business Forum President Syed Maaz Mahmood and general secretary Khurram Niaz Khan in a meeting held here today.
Both sides discussed in details the technical education, Skills Development, EU support for Pakistan in TVET sector, women entrepreneurship and role of SME sector in economic growth.
The ambassador discussed various ideas for providing support to the freelancers in the IT sector, handicrafts and tourism, with the focus on creating linkages within the EU to open new markets for the products.
The APBF and the EU agreed to work on women entrepreneurship, better labour laws, promotion of SME sector, freelancers IT resource along with other projects.
Androulla Kaminara said that the EU is the biggest export market for Pakistani goods, as it accounts for about one-third of all Pakistani exports.
The Ambassador said the European Union fully backed Pakistan’s efforts to overcome the socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and build back better for a more sustainable future. The EU-Pakistan bilateral relations received a major boost when the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) was signed in June 2019, to further enhance engagement between the two sides, and address emerging global challenges, she added.
She said that during 2014-2020 the grants provided to Pakistan amounted to over €600 million, focusing on rural development, education and vocational training and human rights etc. She said the EU can assist Pakistan to expand its exports and uplift its industry through collaboration with the APBF by launching joint ventures in various sectors.
The Ambassador appreciated the role of APBF in boosting trade activities in the region and added that her embassy would be in touch with the Forum to increase the bilateral ties. She said that Pakistan can make more progress by putting in best efforts for Skill Workforce development and EU can also take some positive step to support it.
APBF president Syed Maaz Mahmood, on this occasion, applauded the Ambassador for her efforts to support Pakistan during and post-COVID-19.
He said that the countries of the European Union have been the most important trading partner of Pakistan, accounting for almost 33 percent Pakistan’s total exports, which is encouraging, as the trade figures with the EU countries have been going upward.
APBF President appreciated the efforts and support of the EU to Pakistan, especially GIZ LSP Program which has done great while engaging all the relevant stakeholders along with private sector and business community to improve labor standards to the level of international standards and women empowerment. “The partnership of European Union countries to provide technical education and vocational training and skill to our youth is commendable as we have seen remarkable progress on TVET, which could be a game changer for Pakistan in near future for a prosperous Pakistan.
APBF Secretary General Khurram Niaz Khan said that the country has been availing tariff concession under GSP-Plus status, as it has signed and implementing 27 International Conventions pertaining to human rights, labour rights, environment and good governance. He said that professional and prompt support of EU has brought positive impact on the relationship between Pakistan and EU.