In July, The Nation reported that Pakistan had asked for early legislation on trade concessions by the EU after the devastating floods at the meeting of European Parliament scheduled to be held in September 2012.The request came in a meeting of Senior Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim with members of European Parliament. In response, EU trade concessions were proposed on humanitarian grounds.

Phil Bennion right

Today West Midlands Euro MP Phil Bennion, whose constituency includes hundreds of thousands of people from the Pakistani diaspora,  reacted to reports that more than 289 people had died in the Karachi clothing factory fire; he said that the disaster highlighted the need for the EU to help the government crack down on corruption and enforce safety laws properly:

“This is one of the worst fires in recent industrial history and I offer my condolences to the relatives of those who died. It seems likely that some of them live in the Midlands, given the close ties between our two countries”.

Dr Bennion continues:

“I am one of the strongest supporters of trade liberalisation between the EU and Pakistan, but this horrendous loss of life highlights the need for Pakistan not only to ratify international agreements on safety and other labour issues but to enforce them.

“It is sad to hear that on the same day, another 25 people died in a fire in a shoe factory in Lahore. These deaths are preventable. I hope the European Parliament today votes to give final approval to the exceptional tariff concessions first proposed after the 2010 floods, which include clothing, and in principle I also support plans to allow Pakistan the equivalent of tariff and quota-free access to EU markets for all exports from 2014. But as our delegation emphasised in the talks in Islamabad in July (pictured above) further progress in this direction depends on complying with UN labour standards”.

For full release contact Press Officer: Ben Jephcott –