MULTAN-German Ambassador Ina Lepel has said that Pakistan should not take GSP plus preferences for granted, as the country would have to comply with 27, international conventions related to human rights, governance and labour standards. She said GSP+ is a key driver for the promotion of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Germany. She further said that Germany is focusing on renewable energies and energy efficiency in Pakistan, including consultancy for individual enterprises on energy conservation Germany being a major trade partner of Pakistan in the European market will continue to extend its diplomatic and political support to help explore more avenues for bilateral business.

Addressing a meeting at the Multan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) chaired by Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi here on Thursday, Ina Lepel said that Germany is one of the important trade partners of Pakistan and several German companies are working in different trade fields in Pakistan. Both the countries have potential to increase trade volume and “we must carve out ways and means to exploit the available potential”. She termed GSP plus a key driver for promoting bilateral trade and said that with duty free access to EU, Pak-German trade volume has reached 2.24 billion dollar last year with positive growth of 18%. In the first half of current fiscal year, growth in bilateral trade has been witnessed at 6%.Ina Lepel said that Germany is looking at ways to help Pakistani business community to fully avail the opportunity. However, she cautioned that GSP plus preferences should not be taken for granted as Pakistan has to ensure compliance with 27 international conventions. In order to further strengthen business institutions, Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been established, which would further improve bilateral trade and economic relations, she said.

Ambassador Lepel said: “The GPCCI is a prime example of the energy of Pakistan’s business community. It is an important milestone in the GPCCI’s development.” I am convinced that the GPCCI can make an important contribution to promoting bilateral trade and investment and to increasing Pakistan’s connectivity.” Germany is currently focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Pakistan including consultancy for individual enterprises on energy conservation in their production processes. GIZ is working in different sectors of economy to enhance productivity and working conditions to further improving quality and quantity of exportable surplus from Pakistan, she said. Pakistan remittance which was only 8 million dollars has gone above 19 million dollars. Our inflation rate is less than 4% and GDP is 4.2 now and I am sure it will reach to 5 this year. Our business community is eager to grow. Germany has financially supported major hydropower projects and up-gradation of distribution system in Pakistan. Pakistan-German Renewable Energy Forum will open soon for business,” she told the gathering.

Inna Lepal said a German business delegation, along with the deputy foreign minister of the country, had already visited Pakistan last June, while another delegation would come to Pakistan during the second half of this year to explore new avenues of mutual cooperation. She said Germany’s trade figures with Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia are much larger, and the Pakistani businessmen should make more efforts to promote trade with Germany.

The ambassador said Germany is one of the major donors to the TVET reform programme in Pakistan to provide young people with the skills and competence required by local and foreign employers.

“Another programme, at the factory level, is aimed at enhancing productivity and improving the labour standards, which could give Pakistani companies an edge in the European markets as the European consumers are willing to pay more for the products produced according to the international standards,” Lepal elaborated.

She said her Embassy is working with the Pakistani business community to strengthen German-Pakistan business institutions, and Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been granted license which she hoped would further improve bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Speaking on the occasion, MCCI President Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi said that given the market size of Pakistan and Germany, bilateral trade of $2.4 billion is not up to the real potential of both the countries, and there is a great need for diversifying the two-way trade by focusing on more products. He added keeping in view the importance of CPEC for the investors, it is high time that more German companies and investors should explore Pakistan in general and South Punjab in particular for investment and joint ventures. Roomi said Germany has always supported Pakistan for getting greater market access to EU, and hoped it would continue to promote Pakistan’s business and economic interests in the European markets. Roomi pointed out that the South Punjab with its population of 40 million is an investor-friendly zone and would welcome increased German investments especially in renewable energy and automotive industry.

He further stated that Pakistan has one of the largest students communities in Germany with about 3,500 students.

Former MCCI presidents Shahid Nasim Khokhar and Khawaja Muhammad Usman also spoke.