For the sake of economic revival

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Right now we are going through extreme economic constraints with prices of commodities rising with each passing day. Dollar is rising while rupees’ value is shrinking, oil prices are out of reach of a common man while daunting double digit inflation has broken the backbone of the common man.

In fact, our economic indicators are going nosedive, with almost all of them showing a dismal show with no sign of improvement at the moment.

The piles of foreign debt and current account deficit, everything is going topsy-turvy, forcing the common man to run from pillar to post to make both ends meets. As such the only way out is raise our exports to fetch the country a valuable foreign exchange.

Experts say that any step aimed at economic improvement either at national or international level must be welcome will open arms even though it might be a drop in the ocean.

That’s why one would laud the recent EU envoy indication hinting at further extension of GSP+ to Pakistan is a welcome augury and must be followed with a keen eye to make it a reality as Pakistani goods needs newer destinations to land into in a bid to expand the canvas of its exports by finding newer destinations which can win it a valuable foreign exchange that can save its economy from further malaise. Yes it was none other than the well-known Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Pakistan namely Thomas Seiler who  in his conversation with the Pakistani counterparts has definitely indicated that “GSP+ beyond 2023 is possible for Pakistan” as  country  has ensured the EU that all efforts to show compliance with the high requirements would be made certain and strictly adhere to.

Speaking on ‘Human Rights – GSP+ and beyond”, the envoy was all praise for the current government, which he said is committed to adhere to HR norms and ensure steps to control HR violation in all of its manifestations including the rights of Laborers and eliminating the child labor from the industries, minorities rights and women’s rights as well. As a matter of any efforts at expanding our exports must be viewed with great interest as in recent times, particularly after the pandemic the country’s import bills has increased by whopping amount outpacing the exports earning which have increased comparatively at low rate but there is scope for enhancement.

Financial gurus say that it was mainly due to the fact that the current government was prompted to impose an import ban on luxury items was also due to the high import bill which was badly impacting the foreign exchange reserves and  the ever increasing foreign account deficit and low foreign currency reserves.

Even the EU envoy has underlined the need for such a policy to taking all the stakeholders including the central government, the provincial governments and civil society organizations so that the country could continue benefiting from relaxations and trade benefits beyond 2023.

But despite all the numbers and analysis,  one thing must be kept in mind by those at the helm of central government and provincial affairs that it is not an easy task to avail the trade benefits beyond 2023. Thomas Seiler has said in clear words that the next phase of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP- Plus) is to be based on more international conventions, which will basically be pertaining to the recognition of the capability and proficiency of the UN Human Rights Council to review and attend the complaints from individual complainants, end the death penalty; to recognize the International Criminal Courts. These steps  send the world a message that we are complying with EU rules.

The EU is also much concerned about the  the main role of employers on human rights with main focus on  labour rights with a view to implementing and respecting the human rights in all its manifestation within their organizations and set up and work environment so that all the laborers and workers have access to human rights and basic things of necessities.

And it was really impressive to see Sindh Minister Saeed Ghani who successfully brief the EU envoy on how the  Sindh Govt is on the forefront of  providing legal protection to vulnerable groups and safeguarding the rights of women, children, labour,  transgender, the minorities and persons with disabilities.

To be very specific, what is needed is to implement those laws in words and spirit. There is no denying that the Sindh is leading other provinces as far as formation of laws is concerned and have recorded a number of ‘Firsts’ on this front but the full implementation of those laws is yet to be materialized.

Time has come to focus on implementation of the human rights-friendly laws; so that an environment of trust, harmony and sense of security is produced which in turn will also be conducive to business activities.

In fact,  our exports  have been increasing and are never stagnant but they are unable to keep the pact with the rise in import bills which is going beyond control due to high food import and increasing prices of oil in international market. Our exports have also increased to the Central Asian Countries like the Azerbaijan, etc and that these new destinations must be given proper attention to further propel the efforts at expanding our exports earning by captivating new destinations for our indigenous goods. As far as exports to European countries, they are of great value which can be gauged from the statistics regarding our exports to the EU countries.

According to Thomas Seiler, our exports to the European Union have increased substantially   by 65 per cent i.e., increasing from 4.53b Euros in 2013 to 7.49b Euros in 2019. However during the pandemic, it suffered a lot as they remained stagnant due to corona restrictions that not only hampered the productions of goods but also stalled the process of exports.

Right now what is required for the government is to devising a cohesive strategy in collaboration with EU on how to enhance exports so that we could win a valuable foreign exchange.