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“The Hands That Supply EU Imports”

LAHORE, Pakistan, Jan 4 2013 (IPS) - The European Union (EU) is Pakistan’s largest trading partner, with overall trade between the two countries topping eight million euros in 2011.

Pakistan enjoyed a one billion-euro surplus that year and stands to gain even more from the EU’s generous trade concessions, announced in the aftermath of the devastating floods that ravaged this South Asian country in 2010 and 2011.

Textiles, clothing and leather products make up the largest share of exports to the EU, which also imports surgical instruments and sports goods from Pakistan.

Still, in order to fully benefit from these concessions, Pakistan will have to enforce stricter labour standards and comply with the terms and conditions of several international conventions on human rights, governance and environmental safety to which it is a signatory.

Currently, most workers in Pakistan’s export sector do not receive social security benefits, work in hazardous conditions and are paid on a piece-by-piece basis in lieu of a regular salary.

These hands that enable trade to the EU often go home empty, feeding into a cycle of poverty that continues to consume this country of 176 million people.


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