The European Union has proposed some €100 million in trade liberalization measures to help Pakistan recover from floods.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Wednesday he will propose the suspension of import duties affecting over a quarter of Pakistani imports to the World Trade Organization once they are approved by EU member states and parliament.
There is expected to be little resistance among European Union member states since an EU summit of government leaders proposed it.
The 27-nation bloc sees the relief as both a humanitarian gesture and as a way to help the country prevent Islamic extremists from exploiting economic instability.
Measures could generate €100m a year in additional exports.
The European Commission has proposed trade preferences for Pakistan worth around €300 million over three years to help boost the flood-stricken country’s economy.
The measures, adopted by the college of commissioners today (7 October), require the backing of member states and MEPs. If that backing is obtained, the EU will then seek approval from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The proposal is for the liberalisation of EU import duties on 75 goods that make up around one-quarter of Pakistan’s current exports to the EU. According to the Commission, the scrapping of tariffs on these goods would lead to additional imports from Pakistan of around €100m a year. Most of the products are textiles.
The Commission said that when drawing up the list of goods it had “taken into account both industrial sensitivities in the EU and those of partners in the WTO”. All WTO members will have to support the measures before they can take effect.
Karel De Gucht, the European commissioner for trade, said: “I am very pleased that there is full support for this proposal, which is designed to maximise the benefits for the people of Pakistan after the devastating floods.”
EU leaders had asked the Commission to prepare the proposals at their summit in Brussels on 16 September.
The EU is Pakistan’s main export market. The country’s main exports are textiles and clothing.