KARACHI: British Deputy High Commissioner, Ms Elin Burns, while highlighting the British government’s commitment, said that when the UK leaves European Union (EU), Pakistan’s GSP Plus arrangements will be maintained by the UK, if not improved.
“We will unilaterally agree to put those GSP Plus arrangements in place which is going to be a very positive step in terms of strengthening UK-Pakistan trade ties and it shows UK’s strong commitment and desire to expand trade with Pakistan”, she stated during her visit to the Karachi chamber on Tuesday while referring to UK’s senior trade minister’s recent visit to Pakistan who also announced UK’s commitment to replicate the GSP Plus system arrangements with Pakistan.
KCCI former president and Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Siraj Kassam Teli, BMG Vice Chairman Zubair Motiwala, KCCI President Muffasar Atta Malik, KCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Basit Abdul Razzak, KCCI Vice President Rehan Hanif, Diplomatic Missions Chairman and Embassies Liaison Sub-Committee Sohail Amin, KCCI former presidents Majyd Aziz and Abdullah Zaki, and KCCI managing committee members were present at the meeting.
Ms Elin Burns specified that the British government was keen to further strengthen trade and investment cooperation with Pakistan.
“We have increased our trade teams with a presence in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, which is the sign of the importance that we give to strengthening trade relations with Pakistan”, she said.
She said that the UK government has also appointed Rehman Chishti, a Pakistani, as the prime minister’s trade envoy for Pakistan; he is very enthusiastic to strengthen trade relations between the two countries whereas the British government has also doubled export financing from 200 million pounds to 400 million pounds, which is a significant figure for British companies who are interested in doing business in Pakistan.
“We are doing a lot on our side to encourage UK based firms to explore good opportunities in Pakistan and increase their businesses in Pakistan”, she added.
Elin Burns was fairly optimistic that more trade will take place between Pakistan and UK in the coming years.
Referring to concerns expressed over the issuance of visas, she said that all these concerns were ‘misconceptions’. “Visa applications for Pakistanis are not decided in India as the visa centre continues to operate from Abu Dhabi”, she said.
Reacting to concerns expressed over Indian nationals deciding visa applications submitted by Pakistanis, she assured that anyone, including Pakistanis and Indian nationals, working at the visa centre in Abu Dhabi work under British values, British standards and British rules so there is absolutely no bias in the entire visa applications process.
In this regard, she said that head of visa operations in Abu Dhabi will be invited to Karachi to explain the entire visa issuance process, how it all runs, what common mistakes are seen in the applications and other similar issues in order to clarify numerous misconceptions about the visa issuance process, which is, however, very ‘strict and rigid’.
“We don’t want that the legitimate businessmen and legitimate students are unable to travel to the UK”, she added.