UK Green MEP Welomes trade support measures for Pakistan

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London: Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London and Chair of the European Parliament Delegation with South Asia, has today welcomed the granting of short-term trade measures to Pakistan as part of an EU assistance package designed to help the country continue its recovery from the devastation of the 2010 floods which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and left millions homeless.

The European Parliament has backed proposals to drop import duties to a range of Pakistan products including linen, ethanol and leather entering EU markets for the next year, a move which could bring €100 million in benefits through duty waivers.

The deal was initially proposed two years ago, when unprecedented flooding caused massive losses in Pakistan.  However, to grant autonomous measures for a single country, the EU had to obtain a special waiver from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which was blocked by some members concerned about the possible impact on their own markets.  This waiver was finally granted at the beginning of the year, and following today’s vote the deal is now expected to be in place by October 2012.

Commenting on the deal, Jean said: “I welcome the outcome of today’s vote, which will bring benefits to Pakistan’s economy as well as generate jobs and growth in those areas affected by the devastating floods that hit the country in 2010.  This is an important and unprecedented deal, and one which emphasises the importance the EU places on EU- Pakistan relations.

“Whilst there remain concerns that the initial one year period is insufficient to allow for the creation of new trade relations, we should not underestimate the importance of India’s decision to waive its objection to the deal at the World Trade Organisation.  This move is part of an improvement in Pakistan- India relations which has wider implications for the entire region.

She added: “The tragic fire in a Karachi garment factory this week also shows the need for greater co-operation on measures to improve standards at the workplace.  Measures to help flood victims should not endanger others.”

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