Emergency autonomous trade preferences for Pakistan
Delivered in Plenary - 9th May 2011
The images of last summerís flooding in Pakistan were indeed shocking, and the European Union rightly sought to implement aid measures to assist the millions of Pakistanis whose lives were devastated by this terrible disaster.
Humanitarian aid should be disbursed without political strings. However, emergency trade preferences are a politically controversial measure, both in the context of Pakistan and the region. The presence of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan has now once again exposed Pakistanís ambivalent approach towards fighting terrorism.
So, speaking personally, I am concerned that these emergency trade preferences will appear to reward the Pakistani Government for its lack of action in this respect. I am also worried that secular, democratic Bangladesh, also a country prone to flooding, will suffer as a consequence in terms of unfair competition, and it too is heavily dependent on textiles.
This is a well-meaning measure, and of course I fully accept that, but it is one we need to consider extremely carefully, given all the things that I have outlined in my brief speech.