In a major setback for the already debt-ridden Pakistan, a report claimed that the United States does not want to collaborate or invest in Islamabad due to a range of issues including a dismal record in labour conditions, human rights, religious freedom and deficient governance. The report termed the conditions “roadblocks” between Islamabad and its attempts to secure a General System of Preferences (GSP) favour from the United States. According to a report by Geopolitica.info, the Biden administration is planning to expand the scope of its GSP programme but added that the “report card” issued by several local and international NGOs force the US government to not engage with Pakistan.

As per the media report, the NGOs mainly show how Islamabad treats workers badly in order to secure maximum output. It also highlights other aspects such as bonded labour, child protection, women’s rights, and human trafficking. The fresh uncertainty looms for the Shehbaz Sharif-led government as it is already facing a heavy compliance challenge as a beneficiary of a similar incentive provided by the European Union under its GSP plus scheme. 

According to media reports, the 27-member bloc is about to include six fresh conventions in the new scheme, which may be difficult for Pakistan to comply with and implement. On the other hand, the reaction from the United States to regular trade and investment submissions of Islamabad is not stimulating either.

Pakistan ministers lobbied to get deal

Earlier in June, Pakistan Ambassador Masood Khan held a discussion with senior officials of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) and advocated for engagement with the country. Despite it, the US side was quite firm and particular in its expectations of such proposals.

This includes the proposal of organising a long pending meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) council. The USTR officials apparently insisted on the need to hold a virtual seminar on Good Regulatory Practices (GRP); a Virtual convention on Supply Chain management and diversification; and crafting a joint statement on Women’s Empowerment before that, Geopolitica.info reported.