Islamabad: The European Union on Thursday granted GSP-Plus status to Pakistan, a move that is expected to boost the textile and other industries as it gives exporters duty-free access to 27 European countries.
In all, 406 members of the European Parliament supported the move at a session in Brussels, state-run media reported here. Under the deal, 75 Pakistani products would have duty-free access to European markets.
"Award of GSP-Plus status shows confidence of the international markets in the excellent quality of Pakistani products," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.
Gaining access to European markets was the top priority of his government as part of an economic development agenda, he said.
The status will enable Pakistan to export products worth over USD 1 billion to international markets and the textile industry alone is expected to earn profits of more than Rs 1 trillion a year, Sharif said.
Sharif said the increase in exports would facilitate economic growth and help generate millions of additional jobs.
Analysts said the EU trade concessions will benefit Pakistan`s textile and clothing industry, mostly by enabling its products to compete with those of regional rivals like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which already have duty-free access to the bloc`s markets.
Pakistan`s textile and clothing exports to the EU currently constitute over half of the country`s total exports to the bloc worth USD 9.5 billion.
The GSP-Plus status will provide Pakistan duty-free or preferential duty rate access for a total of 3,500 products. Pakistani textile exports to the EU now attract an 11 per cent duty.
Pakistan was lobbying with several EU member countries to get the status. It had even put on hold the death penalty to get the deal through.
In a written statement to the Senate last week, the Foreign Office said the country`s case for greater access to European markets would be substantially weaker if it does not abolish the death penalty.