Pakistan seeks to advance a services export roadmap

30 October 2013
ITC News
High-level meeting results in proposals on how to enhance Pakistan’s export potential

Pakistan is ready to update and implement a services export roadmap, according to senior Pakistan government officials following a high-level meeting of 30 senior officials and private sector representatives, held in Islamabad in October.

The meeting, which was jointly organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), was part of the ITC-implemented Trade Policy Capacity Building Component of the European Union-funded Trade Related Technical Assistance Programme (TRTA-II) for Pakistan.

At the 9 October meeting, Pierre Sauvé, ITC’s lead expert on trade in services for the Pakistan programme and Director of External Programmes and Academic Partnerships at the University of Bern’s World Trade Institute, spoke about the steps Pakistan needs to take to enhance the quality of its trade-policy formulation process in services. He also pointed to lessons learned from ongoing innovative efforts to support services export growth in China, Colombia and Mauritius.

Among the practical steps that were discussed, aimed at giving greater focus to the Pakistani government’s efforts in services-trade promotion, was the updating and implementation of a services-exports roadmap study, prepared in 2007 for the Ministry of Commerce under the TRTA-1 project component. Equally crucial was the need to identify the country’s bottlenecks in services and to decide what roles should be assigned to domestic reform and external liberalization efforts in tackling them.

Also discussed was the need to significantly strengthen Pakistan’s architecture of trade-policy formulation in services, with a focus on enhanced inter-agency coordination and strengthened external stakeholder consultations. It was agreed that particularly important was the establishment of a ‘Pakistani Coalition of Service Industries’ to bring together the many disparate voices of the country’s highly diverse service sector and to facilitate the process of stakeholder consultations.

It was agreed that there is a need to conduct a thorough audit of the country’s regulatory regime for services and to identify sources of export readiness and competitiveness in the country, while strengthening Pakistan’s trade and investment support institutions and designing support measures tailored to the needs of the services sector, tasks for which continued close cooperation with ITC will be central.

‘These ideas will be circulated to all concerned stakeholders for further refinement and to consolidate operational proposals. The outcome of the consultations will be submitted to Pakistan’s Secretary of Commerce for his consideration as an initial action plan for boosting Pakistan’s exports in services,’ said Mohammad Owais Khan, ITC’s in-country representative for the programme.

ITC delivers training on trade in services across Pakistan

Before the high-level meeting, ITC delivered a series of training sessions in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The training sessions were attended by about 250 public and private-sector representatives.

‘The trainings provided a ready-made opportunity for participants to gain a much finer understanding of the complex range of issues relating to services trade and the scope for greater insertion of Pakistani service firms in global value chains. Such increased knowledge will enable participants to more effectively contribute to government policies in this area,’ said Andrew Huelin, Associate Adviser of Business and Trade Policy at ITC.

Sajid Hussain, Director-General of PITAD, said that the TRTA-II programme had given a strong impetus to building the capacity of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors on issues relating to international trade. Since the programme began in 2011, more than 1,000 stakeholders have been trained on different trade policy issues.