While referring to President KCCI’s request for supporting Pakistan in the continuity of EU’s GSP Plus, which will be expiring on December 31, 2023, the Ambassador of Belgium Charles Delogne said, “The regulation for GSP Plus is being discussed now and there is a change in the procedure which will decided by the European Union’s Parliament.”
“Of course, this change has implications in the field of human rights and probably the European Union will be more demanding and the EU would also like to see progress in the Environment Policy”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
President KCCI Muhammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Muhammad Haris Agar and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.
The Belgian Ambassador, who was accompanied by Political Advisor Sylvain Vanrie and Trade Commissioner Abid Hussain, stated that GSP Plus was more than a Free Trade Agreement and the EU signs such agreements with countries who are perceived as likeminded on a certain number of issues like human rights and environment etc. “The idea is to not only have free trade but also to promote society values”, he said, adding that because of GSP Plus, European Union was by far the main trade partner of Pakistan with overall trade of around 7 billion Euros per annum which was very impressive.
Commenting of bilateral trade between Belgium and Pakistan, he informed that last year, trade turnover between the two countries stood at 1.4 billion Euros which was balanced and the positive trend continued till July 2022. “But we don’t know the impact of floods in Pakistan which would probably be negative and we hope it remains limited as it is very important that upward trend continues and trade turnover remains balanced”, he added.
He said that foreign trade was very vital for Belgium as it was a small country spread over an area of 30,000 sq. kms. with 12 million inhabitants and without any natural resources. “Our only business is to import goods, transform them by adding maximum value and then to export them that’s why foreign trade and free trade are very vital for Belgium.”
While assuring full support and cooperation to the business and industrial community of Karachi, the Belgian Envoy said, “We are at the disposal of all those people who want to do business with Belgium and ready to facilitate wherever we can.”
Earlier, President KCCI Tariq Yousuf, while welcoming the Ambassador, pointed out that relations between Pakistan and Belgium have always been very cordial and although Belgium was a small country in terms of size and population but it has been a good source for exporting Pakistani goods to EU which was the second largest market for Pakistan’s exports. Referring to EU’s GSP Plus which will be expiring on December 31, 2023, he requested the Belgian government to support Pakistan in continuity of GSP Plus whenever it will be reviewed for renewal.
Highlighting the avenues of cooperation, he said that due to modernization and high labor cost, Belgium has closed down many of its industrial units, hence all such industries units particularly the textiles and dairy industries can be relocated to Pakistan under joint ventures which would certainly prove beneficial for the business communities of the two friendly countries. “We can be partners and learn from Belgian know-how about its industrial equipment which was no longer being used in Belgium, hence these can be transferred to Pakistan. Moreover, the business communities can also have cooperation in the field of electrical items and machinery manufacturing”, he said, adding that there was also a possibility of exporting manpower, particularly the skilled Labor Force, to EU as lots of Pakistani have already been working hard in several EU countries including Spain, Germany and Italy etc.