Ambassador of European Union (EU) Androulla Kaminara, left, calls on Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad, Pakistan, on November 10, 2021.

Rawalpindi, 11 November 2021 (TDI): According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), European Union (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara met with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday, 10 November.

Issues of common interest, the regional security environment, notably the current situation in Afghanistan, and bilateral cooperation with the EU were all discussed during the meeting. General Bajwa, speaking at the event, emphasised the importance of Pakistan’s relations with EU countries.

According to the press release, “the visiting dignitary commended Pakistan’s participation in the Afghan situation and efforts for regional stability, and committed to play their part in further improving diplomatic ties with Pakistan at all levels.”

Pakistan should not take its preferential trade status for granted, according to a visiting European Parliament delegation, adding that the country was making “no progress” on women’s and minority rights, as well as its press freedom record, which it is required to do in order to receive trade concessions beyond 2023.

The European Parliament passed a resolution in April calling for an early reconsideration of Pakistan’s GSP+ eligibility due to violence and discrimination against religious minorities and other vulnerable groups, as well as a media crackdown. Last month, the EU Ambassador to Islamabad stated that the South Asian country will have to “redouble” its efforts to comply with international human rights agreements in order to remain in the GSP+ scheme.

Pak-EU bilateral relations

Pakistan-EU relations are chiefly based on trade. The Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Pakistan, which was signed in 2004, governs bilateral trade relations between the two countries. The EU-Pakistan 5-year Engagement Plan, which began in 2012, includes enhancing bilateral commerce and investment.

Pakistan has reaped the benefits of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) in terms of trade (GSP). Pakistan has benefited from extensive tariff preferences (mainly zero taxes on two-thirds of all product categories) under the so-called GSP+ arrangement, which aims to assist sustainable development and good governance, beginning on January 1, 2014. To keep GSP+, Pakistan must continue to ratify and effectively implement 27 core international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance.