Trade Chief MEP, Sajjad Karim, today actioned a strategic policy decision to highlight concerns regarding Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines, all of whom benefit from EU trade preferences similar to Pakistan.

The decision to do so by the European Parliament was arrived at after a meeting of the International Trade (INTA) Committee jointly by Dr Karim, Chairman of the South Asia Trade Monitoring Committee; Christopher Fjellner MEP, Chairman of the GSP Monitoring Committee and Bernd Lange MEP, Chairman of the INTA Committee.

The concerns with the three countries vary from the controversial fight against drugs in the Philippines to democratic development in Cambodia to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

The British MEP also reported back to the INTA Committee on Pakistan’s GSP+ trade status, highlighting the progress made by the country.

Speaking in Brussels, Dr Karim said:

“The European Parliament’s concerns with Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines are perfectly legitimate given the carrot & stick approach to trade and raising standards we strive to adopt.

“This is why along with my colleagues Christofer Fjellner MEP and Bernd Lange MEP, the European Parliament has decided to action a strategic policy decision to highlight concerns regarding the three countries in question. We hope that by doing so we will have a positive effect on them.

“The focus for Pakistan though, should be to continue its programme of development and raising standards. Such continuous improvements will mean that Pakistan’s GSP position is secure until the European Parliament elections in 2019. Thereafter a new trade policy will be adopted, along with a new Commission.

“The United Kingdom is currently due to exit the EU in March 2019 and accordingly the dynamics for Pakistan will require adjustments.”

Dr Karim was instrumental in Pakistan gaining its coveted GSP+ trade status and in 2015 was awarded the Sitara-i-Qaid-i-Azam – the highest national honour to non-Pakistanis for services that have helped the country – joining ranks with the British Queen and Nelson Mandela.

He also Chairs the Friends of Pakistan Group within the European Parliament.