The Express Tribune
Published Date: Nov 15, 2017
Pakistan’s trade policy should be based on public-private dialogue
LAHORE: The Ministry of Commerce’s forthcoming Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2018-2023 must be based on constructive and broad-based engagement between the public and private sectors, said Ministry of Commerce Director General of Trade Policy Noman Aslam on Tuesday.
Addressing a roundtable meeting, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), titled ‘Achieving Export Competitiveness in Pakistan’, he said that the new framework will focus on addressing Pakistan’s gradual decline in export competitiveness over the past 20 years.
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Charting the development of Pakistan’s trade policy over the last decade, Aslam highlighted Pakistan’s movement towards a more forward-looking and long-term approach since 2009, when the commerce ministry drafted its first three-year STPF. In this regard, he also appreciated the ministry’s forthcoming trade policy framework, which will be valid for five years, between 2018 and 2023.
Speaking on Pakistan’s decline in exports over the last two decades, World Bank Group Senior Economist Gonzalo J Varela highlighted the country’s challenges in penetrating more diverse export markets and leveraging global value chains as a vehicle of sustained economic growth.
He explained how Pakistan’s overall share of the global export market had declined in comparison to peer economies such as India and Bangladesh, even though the country’s exports had increased in absolute terms.
To reverse this decline, Varela recommended more market and product diversification and measures to improve the quality and sophistication of Pakistan’s export basket.
Providing further insight on the decline of trade and investment in Pakistan, World Bank Senior Economist Nadia Rocha recommended introducing modern trade facilitation measures and a flexible exchange rate mechanism in the country. She recommended measures to reduce the cost-of-doing business, with a view towards creating a more favourable climate for foreign direct investment.
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She also highlighted the need for greater trade liberalisation efforts, which can boost productivity and export competitiveness in Pakistan.
Earlier, SDPI Deputy Executive Director Vaqar Ahmed highlighted key issues identified by the business community in the context of nation-wide consultations held by the organisation. He highlighted how local business competitiveness was being eroded by the imposition of multiple taxes by numerous revenue authorities at the federal and provincial levels.