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Pakistani apparel exporters hit as EU closes doors citing misuse of blasphemy laws

Pakistan's exporters as GSP withdrawn

Concerns have risen among Pakistan’s apparel exporters as the European Parliament decided to withdraw the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) status accorded to the country.

According to Apparel Resources, the move could benefit Indian apparel manufacturers. “Indian giants of home textile as well as apparel industry will get benefit as some orders that earlier used to be placed with Pakistani companies, will now shift to India,” it said.

The decision was taken amid abuse of blasphemy laws. Withdrawal of the GSP status would deal a big blow to the country’s apparel exports as they would be now required to additional export duties for goods supplied to Europe.

“Earlier in April, the EU had adopted a joint motion for a resolution on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan as it urged the Islamic Republic to opt for a more comprehensive approach to address the abuses of blasphemy laws,” Apparel Resources said.

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News agency ANI reported that the EU is now Pakistan's second most important trading partner, accounting for 14.3 per cent of Pakistan's total trade in 2020 and absorbing 28 per cent of Pakistan's total exports.

The ANI said that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom previously called for the elimination of blasphemy laws throughout the world. About 84 countries have such laws, although few if any are as far-reaching, draconian, or as open to abuse as those of Pakistan, the news agency added.

“Pakistan has the highest rate of enforcement of blasphemy laws, with Iran the second highest,” ANI added.