EU's Review of Pakistan's GSP+ Status
While the final decision awaits, EU signals are optimistic for continuing Pakistan's GSP+ status, according to EU Trade Chief MEP Sajjad Karim. He said the EU Commission Report submitted on 19th January 2018 demonstrated the progress being made by Pakistan within the criteria set by the trade scheme, albeit with areas of improvement still needed.
Key findings of the report are reproduced below:
- Pakistan conducted its 56th national census in 2017, revealing an
estimated 58% growth in population since the last census in 1996. It should
allow the Government to better target socio-economic policies for the different
elections: Pakistan is still a fragile democracy. PM Nawaz Sharif had to step
down as the result of a Supreme Court Ruling related to corruption charges
revealed in the ‘Panama Papers’.
substantial engagement of Pakistan in fighting terrorism has led to a
considerable loss of lives and of
budgetary resources that
otherwise could have
been used for
socio-economic development. The fight against terrorism has also
overshadowed other critical issues, among which the protection and promotion of
human rights. Legislation to
protect citizens from violence
and ensure the
security of state
institutions must not
compromise the respect
for human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of
religion or belief.
COMPLIANCE WITH GSP+ OBLIGATIONS
UN Human Rights Conventions
has ratified all  Conventions.
- The country underwent its 3rd Universal Periodic Review on 13 Nov 2017, where
117 delegations took the floor raising concerns related to, inter alia, the
death penalty, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression
and issues of discrimination and violence against women and minorities.
Pakistan received 289 recommendations to which it should respond by March 2018.
the last two years have seen the adoption of a number of new laws, strategies
and action plans, implementation remains an issue of concern. For reasons of
lack of political priority, weak capacity, resulting in legal safeguards not
always being translated into tangible improvements on the ground.
the granting of GSP+, the Government established a system of Treaty
Implementation Cells (TICs) at federal and provincial levels, tasked with
coordinating the implementation of treaty obligations between different line
ministries and departments and between the federal and provincial levels. They
provide a useful forum for discussion and coordination which did not exist
before, however the TICs are still developing their responsibilities and
of human rights in Pakistan remains a challenge due to lack of reliable,
nation-wide data related to human rights. Some NGOs collect figured, but this
information is somewhat sporadic and mainly based on media monitoring.
- Future Actions and Priorities
greater focus on human rights issues during the reporting period has been
noted. The framework for human rights is being strengthened with a pro-active
Ministry for Human Rights and engagement by Parliament, provinces, different
coordination mechanisms and oversight bodies. A national Human Rights Institute
is being established to focus on human rights research and training. The Law
Reforms Committee continues to work on overhauling legislation and according to
the Government an overall framework for human rights is being developed as part
of its participation in Open Government Partnership.
policies on empowerment of women, on violence against women and on domestic
workers are being established.
ILO Labor Rights Conventions
has maintained ratification of the eight ILO fundamental conventions relevant
for GSP+ and has complied with all its reporting obligations.
- The labor force in Pakistan is estimated at 61 million people out of whom 57
million people are employed. The Government estimates that 73% of the workforce
is employed in the informal sector, primarily in agriculture and homebased
work. The government carried out a new labor force survey in 2017, the results
of which are not available yet.
Safety and Health continues to be an issue in Pakistan. Serious incidents, such
as factory fires and building collapses, do occur. The working environments
generally remain unhealthy and unsafe.
Labor inspection system remains inadequate. The Government has developed a
framework for revitalization and restructuring of the inspection system and is
working with ILO and donors to implement improvements, including through
recruitment of inspectors, capacity building and digitization. However, so far
this has not translated into substantial improvements and further steps could
include a new legislative framework, a separation of the inspection system from
the provincial labor departments and establishing tripartite oversight
2016, the EU funded project International Labor and Environmental Standards
Application in Pakistan’s SMEs (ILES) promotes sustainable and inclusive growth
in Pakistan by supporting the economic integration of Pakistan into the
regional economy by improving compliance with labor and environmental standards
and increased competitiveness. In particular, the project will assist SMEs in
the textile and leather sector to institutionalize the implementation of and
compliance with ILES legislation through their active engagement.
Elimination of Discrimination under Conventions 100 and 111
Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste,
sex, residence and place of birth.
discrimination against women in the workplace continues to be a major concern.
The wage gap is significant and some estimate that women receive on average
less than 60% of the salary of men for equal work. The labor market
participation of women (24%) is significantly lower than men (81%). The 2017
Labor Force Survey is expected to provide updated information on this gap.
Women are also discriminated against when it comes to promotions, often face
sexual harassment, and have difficulty receiving maternity benefits and lack
basic facilities in the workplace.
are reports that provinces are taking some action, including by sensitizing
labor inspectors and actively enforcing anti-discrimination provisions, but the
scope and intensity is unclear. There are also quotas for women in certain
public positions, but they are sometimes unfilled, ostensibly due to lack of
qualified candidates. The low number of complaints, including to the Ombudsman,
is sometimes pointed out, but it is more likely a reflection of a lack of
empowerment, rather than an absence of problems.
- Future actions and priorities
continues to be confronted with a number of pressing issues with regard to
protection of labor rights. Some provinces, namely Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa, have been more active in terms of building a legislative framework
and its implementation. Labor force and child labor surveys are underway, which
are an important step for reliable overview of the labor situation in the
country. The number of labor inspectors is planned to increase. The federal and
provincial authorities are taking some initiatives to improve
anti-discrimination legislation, but stronger action will be needed.