German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and European Union Commissioner for Development call on Prime Minister Gilani
Islamabad: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani emphasized upon increased market access of Pakistani exports to EU and stressed for early operationalization of trade concessions by obtaining WTO’s waiver which has been held-up since long. The Prime Minister appreciated the special efforts of Germany and EU for market access to Pakistani products in EU Countries and unilateral concessions on 75 items. He also appreciated the EU’s initiatives for obtaining the WTO’s waiver in its forthcoming meeting.
The Prime Minister was talking to Mr. Dirk Niebel, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development and Mr. Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development to Pakistan at the Prime Minister’s House here this afternoon.
The Prime Minister urged for EU’s support for GSP+ status for Pakistan’s exports to EU which he said would facilitate investments and help creation of jobs. In the same context, the Prime Minister maintained that upward revision of Import Vulnerability Criterion (IVC) from 1% to 2% as eligibility criterion for GSP Plus in the proposed Scheme starting from 2014 would help Pakistan to benefit from the additional space for export of its goods to EU.
As regards the ratification of conventions the Prime Minister assured the delegation that Pakistan would soon be ratifying the remaining two conventions out of the 27 conventions proposed by the European Commission. He informed them that consensus has been achieved among all the stake holders including the provincial governments on all relevant matters to ratify the two conventions.
Underlining the Government’s resolve to mobilize domestic resources, the Prime Minister said that measures have already been announced in the Budget. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to maintain fiscal discipline and high growth.
The Prime Minister stated that Pakistan’s new growth strategy is laying emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and youth development. He mentioned that Government has presented pro-poor budget for the year 2011-12 and has embarked on various programmes in social sectors.
The Prime Minister said that through constitutional amendments, social sector ministries have been devolved to Provinces. However, some vertical programmes in health and education will continue to be funded by the Federal Government, he added.
While mentioning about the economic reforms introduced, the Prime Minister said that the current budget of Pakistan is focused on micro economic stability. During the last three years, he said the government had to take certain unpopular but economically prudent decisions in order to reduce the fiscal deficit. The government, he added took measures to shift from the regime of universal subsidies to targeted subsidies like the Benazir Income support Programme which has been recognized by the world bank as a pro-poor scheme in the entire region.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan has enforced large cut in its development budget to undertake rescue and relief works for the flood affected people. He thanked the government and people of Germany for 19 million Euros assistance for IDPs and 200 million Euros support for flood reconstruction efforts for which the German Chancellor made special efforts through telethon appeal. He also thanked EU for 72 million Euros assistance for IDPs and 200 million Euros for flood affectees.
The Prime Minister appreciated the EU and German support through two agreements signed today of 90 million Euros with Germany and 225 million Euros with EU as special assistance for Energy sector, rural development, health and education. This support, he said would go a long-way in strengthening the relations between Pakistan and the European Union.
While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism and extremism the Prime Minister said that being a frontline state Pakistan had to face the brunt in shape of human and financial sacrifices. Pakistan is fighting the war against terrorism for the sake of regional and international peace and prosperity. Pakistan, he stated had improved its relation with neighbouring countries in the larger interest of the people of the region. Pakistan desires to see peace and stability in Afghanistan through an Afghan led reconciliation process. Peaceful and stable Afghanistan, he added would also help the return of 3.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and forgotten by the world.
The EU Commissioner stated that the joint visit of EU Commissioner and German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development reflects the importance which EU attaches to the economic development and stability of Pakistan. While appreciating the leadership qualities of the Prime Minister in steering the country through challenging times, he said that through sustained and consistent approach the government has been able to achieve a lot in bringing about political stability and strengthening democracy.
He noted with satisfaction that despite numerous challenges and difficulties the economy of Pakistan is improving. He appreciated the Prime Minister’s resolve to expand trade rather than aid to bring about prosperity to the people of Pakistan. He expressed confidence that Pakistan would be able to ratify the remaining two conventions to be able to benefit from the proposed new GSP+Scheme starting from 2014 in which the percentage of IVC (import venerability criteria) has been increased from 1% to 2%.
The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development while appreciating the resilience of Pakistani people and the government to confront challenges said that the economic policies had helped to sustain the pressure on its economy. The 90 million Euro assistance agreements signed today between Germany and Pakistan for energy, health and education is an effort to support the government’s effort for improving the socio-economic conditions of the people. He said that it is heartening to recognize that Pakistan and Germany have successfully maintained Pakistan-Germany Economic Cooperation, for 50 years.
The meeting was attended by the Foreign Secretary, Secretary Commerce, Secretary Economic Affairs Division and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.
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