BRUSSELS: A four-member parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, known as European Union (EU) Friendship Group, headed by Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan, met with several heads of groups and committees in the European Parliament(EP) in Brussels on Tuesday. The delegation comprised of members of parliament, including Dr Fehmida Mirza, Shibli Faraz and Sirajul Haq.
The delegation met with the member of European Parliament (MEP) and European People’s Party Group in EP Chairman Manfred Weber and Dr. Sajjad Karim. Dastagir briefed Manfred Weber and Dr. Sajjad Karim comprehensively regarding political and economic developments in Pakistan after the consolidation of the democratic process in Pakistan since 2008.
Talking about the upward trajectory witnessed in Pakistan-EU relations, the minister said that the relations between Pakistan and the European countries have further strengthened after GSP Plus scheme. Dr. Sajjad Karim, expressing his views, said that Pakistan should avail every opportunity especially GSP Plus status to enhance its trade and commerce with the member countries.
The delegation also gave an overview of the economic uplift and investment opportunities that have been created in Pakistan in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Weber strongly supported the need to further enhance trade relations between Pakistan and EU, adding that EU always favoured stronger Pakistan-EU relations in all respects. He also showed a keen interest in understanding the scope of CPEC. The delegation also met with GSP Plus monitoring committee.
Dastgir informed the committee that Pakistan had always preferred trade over aid as a means for development and the expansion oftrade between Pakistan and European countries over the past four years, especially after earning GSP Plus status, clearly manifests this approach. He briefed the committee on his government’s policies towards improving the economy of Pakistan. Furthermore, Dastgir said that the GSP Plus status provided the necessary window for strengthening Pakistan’s economy.
“With increased energy supply from the projects undertaken by the government in the past four years and supplemented by the energy projects envisaged under CPEC, Pakistan would be able to fully utilise the potential of GSP Plus facility,” he said. This would also help diversify Pakistan’s production base and yield positive dividends for its people, he added. He also lauded EU’s role in supporting trade activities with Pakistan. He invited EU to consider investing in Pakistan following improvement in the economic outlook of the country. Speaking on the occasion, Senator Shibli Faraz said that Pakistan was cognisant of the challenges it faced in terms of trade and was working to diversify its export base by pursuing various projects.
The delegation also held a meeting with MEPs and South Asian Delegation in EP Chairman and Vice Chairman Jean Lambert and James Nicholson. Lambert welcomed the delegation and said that EU was ready to assist Pakistan in bringing improvements in various fields. She wished the delegation well for the general elections scheduled to be held in Pakistan midway this year.