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Number of Downlaods: 46

Published Date: Jan 1, 2002

Impact of Trade Liberalisation on Lives and Livelihood of Mountain Communities in the Northern Areas of Pakistan

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Shfqat Munir, Syed Qasim Shah

Executive Summary

The unique feature of the current globalisation process is the “liberalisation” of national policies and governance mechanisms. National policies (economic, trade, political, governance, social, cultural, and the technological areas) that until recently were under the jurisdiction of States and people within a country have increasingly come under the influence of international agencies and external factors. This has narrowed the ability of governments and people to make choices from options in livelihood strategies. Market forces are determining the fate of common livelihood assets such as usage of forests, non-timber forest products, water and grazing lands etc. Trade liberalization may bring some benefits but rapid liberalization without proper preparation and groundwork under the influence of international financial institutions (IFIs) is disastrous and threat to the very basis of livelihoods.

Ideally trade liberalization should be the “mean” to secure sustainable livelihood and not an “end” in itself. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many under developed countries including Pakistan and the end objective seems to be rapid liberalisation instead of development. Hence, the brunt of further economic liberalization and increase in trade facilitated by various WTO agreements (in force or under negotiation) is always and would be on the marginalized sections of communities such as farmers and women who are already vulnerable and cannot absorb the shocks of globalisation. The things become even worst when the vulnerable communities are located in fragile areas (such as mountainous areas).

In this backdrop, a need was felt for a study in Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, which is facing new challenges of multi factor market. This is a three years program, funded by the Ford Foundation and ActionAid. The program is being carried out by South Asian Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) partners in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It aims to identify not only the impacts of economic liberalization (under WTO regime) on farmers’ rights, but also to suggest the coping strategies. The idea is to put people at the centre of development and analyse the possible “opportunities for” and “threats to” the farmers of the HKH region within the multilateral trading system. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is undertaking this program as a regional partner of SAWTEE in Pakistan. The first research conducted under this program was to study the impact of trade liberalization [Agreement on Agriculture (AoA); and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of the World Trade Organization (WTO)] on livelihoods of the people living in HKH region of Pakistan.