ISLAMABAD: The European Union’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara, said on Wednesday that Pakistan’s exports to the EU went to $7.5 billion or 34 percent of total exports of the country after getting GSP Plus status and there was a need to focus more on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“The EU provided GSP Plus status under 27 conditions as many of these conditions were already ratified by Pakistan. Since 2014, Pakistan’s exports to EU have gone up to $7.5 billion or 34 percent of the total country’s exports on per annum basis. The EU is a major buyer of Pakistan exports products as share of exports to USA stood at 33 percent and China 8 percent,” the EU’s Ambassador, Androulla Kaminara, said while addressing the 4th Women Chamber of Commerce meeting organized by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Jang Media Group here on Wednesday. The Women Convention was organized under the umbrella of International Chambers Summit (ICS) 2021.
The EU ambassador said that Pakistan’s major exports to the EU were textiles and leather. There are many other areas that could be accessed under the GSP Plus status. She mentioned that Pakistani entrepreneurs could focus on embroidery and gems and jewellery. She said the Pakistan Business Forum was established to focus more on the SME sector and its first meeting would be held in Islamabad in April this year. She said that COVID-19 pandemic restricted movement but she would love to go around different cities, including economic hubs in various parts of the country.
She further said that there was great potential for women entrepreneurship through SMEs, which are central to value addition.
The EU delegation will launch a forum to connect the European Union to Pakistan SMEs, so they can benefit from GSP+ exports with an initial focus on sectors, including handicrafts, gems, jewellery, & tourism.
The EU is also working towards providing technical & vocational (TVET) training in Pakistan and also leads funding agency for TVET sector — with focus on empowering women with necessary skills to improve employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
At the inaugural session, Minister for Railways Azam Swati said that Pakistan Railways (PR) faced total accumulated losses of Rs1.2 trillion in the last 50 years while in the first six months (July-December) period of current fiscal year, the PR financial losses stood at Rs20.3 billion.
Azam Swati made the commitment that he would turn around the PR in the next 6 to 9 months period as it would be run on the basis of business model. He said that many mafias captured the PR land and he would make all-out efforts to vacate state-owned land. He said that women could also play an important role in the development of railways. Under public-private partnership, private sector, chamber of commerce, women entrepreneurs can also be involved in the development of railways.
The minister said that it was the vision of Prime Minister Imran’s government to provide facilities to women in every field. Railways will be made an economic hub, but unfortunately this has not happened. In the last 50 years, a loss of Rs1.2 trillion has been incurred, including a loss of Rs20.3 billion in the last six months. There is a lot of potential for development in the railways. “We will develop 167,000 railway lands across the country.”
He said that he had requested chairman NAB to allow signaling project of Pakistan Railways as this project got stuck from 2008 to 2012. He said he asked the chairman NAB to hang those who were involved in corruption but this signaling project of PR should be accomplished without any further delay. The PR has been facing losses due to non-availability of signaling project as it caused many hours delay on daily basis, he added.
At the end of the inauguration ceremony, when this scribe inquired from the minister about financing arrangement about the awaited ML-1 project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the minister replied that there should be no politics on this sensitive issue. “The financing of ML-1 will be done within the current fiscal year,” he added and refused to share any further information on this subject.
Earlier, President Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mohammad Nasir Mirza said that the International Chambers Summit has three parts. During day-long seminar, Ambreen Iftikhar from FBR, Fareena Mazhar, Secretary Board of Investment, Ms Tania Butter, GM SMEDA, Sher Afsheen from OXFAM, and Ayesha Khan from Hashoo Foundation also spoke on the occasion. Sohail Altaf, group leader of RCCI, said that the economy had now started recovering and the time had come to pay back.
The story originally appeared in THE NEWS