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Italian Senate demands withdrawal of EUs GSP benefits to Pakistan

The Italian Senate has asked the European Union (EU) and its Parliament to immediately suspend and or withdraw business opportunities offered to Pakistan under the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) because of its support to terror outfits operating from its soil and its poor human rights record.

In a resolution passed recently, a critical Italian Senate told Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Economic Development in Europe that Pakistan has "always been the cradle of international terrorism" and has " not been able to comply with UN conventions based on human rights, workers' rights, respect for the environment and protection of women" and therefore it should not be permitted to remain one of the main beneficiaries of business opportunities offered under the EU's GSP.

"Pakistan, thanks to this regime, benefits from advantageous tariff preferences and its products enter Italy duty free. With a provision signed by the Minister of the Interior on 20 October, a Pakistani national was expelled from Italy for reasons of national security. It is not the first Pakistani expelled from Italy, since the country has always been the cradle of international terrorism," the Italian Senate said in its resolution issued last month.

The resolution further went on to note "despite this danger, trade between our country (Italy) and Pakistan has increased, although the development of Pakistani textiles strongly damages Italian industries." Pakistan is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the GSP+ scheme, under the special monitoring mechanism implemented by the EU. In practice, the EU has introduced and applied a strategy of incentivising gradual progress through dialogue and monitoring, rather than withdrawing preferences. The total volume of preferential imports to the EU under the three GSP components worked out to around €51 billion in 2014, i.e. only three per cent of EU imports from the rest of the world (totalling €1692 billion the same year).

Around 90 per cent of the total volume of preferential exports to the EU under GSP originates in less than 10 countries, located mainly in South and South-East Asia. In each of the GSP layers, one single country is the source of over 50 per cent of all EU preferential imports.