With Pakistan’s nearly bankrupt government sending a delegation to an upcoming summit with the EU later this week, many would expect that a key issue would be pressing for more foreign aid from the nations. Not so, says Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi.
Instead, Qureshi says the delegation will focus on their desire to increase trade with the European Union and downplay their desire for more direct aid. To that end the key effort is going toward winning GSP+ status.
The largest trading partner for Pakistan, the chance to make the EU’s GSP+, or “Generalized System of Preferences Plus” list means much lower tariffs on Pakistani goods in the EU marketplace, something Qureshi estimated could mean $6 billion in additional trade an upwards of a million jobs created nationwide.
If true this would represent a major boon to Pakistan’s floundering economy, adding a significant percentage to its $17.87 billion in exports in 2009. Eligibility for GSP+ requires the nation to adhere to certain EU mandated policies however, and given Pakistan’s widespread corruption and history of military coups, there is no guarantee that they can convince the EU to open up this possibility, even if it is ultimately cheaper than direct aid.