Pakistan studies recommend reforms to enhance export competitiveness
Five separate research studies, aimed at recommending reforms to better enable Pakistan to export competitively, have been published by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The studies range from enhancing the country’s agricultural and industrial sector exports to India by addressing a range of issues, including non-tariff measures, to better benefiting from the EU General System of Preference Plus scheme, and enhancing dairy and livestock sector competitiveness.
The studies were carried out as part of the Trade Policy Capacity Building Component, implemented by ITC, of the European Union Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA II) Programme, which aims at strengthening the capacity of Pakistan to participate in international trade.
The findings of each of the studies have informed three public-private consultative processes on similar topics undertaken in the country in 2012 and 2013. Following the consultative processes, the studies were updated to better reflect the views and recommendations of stakeholders. The main findings of each of the studies have also been shared with the Government of Pakistan for their consideration.
Government adopts recommendations stemming from 2011 process
In 2011, five research studies conducted by ITC informed two separate public-private consultative processes: on developing a Services Sector Export Development Strategy, focusing particularly on computer-related services, professional services and transport services; and on Enhancing Regional Trade with Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Countries, focusing particularly on textile made-ups and the light engineering sectors.
In mid-2012, the findings of the process were submitted to the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce for their consideration and potential implementation through the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) for 2012 to 2015. Further follow-up work and awareness raising of the policy recommendations was conducted by ITC in-country representative, Mohammad Owais Khan, Tahir Maqsood, Director-General of the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD) and Dr. Shujat Ali, Secretary, Department of Commerce, Industries and Investment, Government of the Punjab.
Mr Khan said: ‘A very important factor for the success of the process was the immense ground work that was undertaken to identify the relevant stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. Following this, there was a need to raise awareness about the consultative platform and why it had been established, and then finally to convince all that by taking part they had a real opportunity to be involved in either potentially influencing the decision making process or hearing the views of stakeholders.’
In January 2013, the STPF was announced, which included a number of recommendations generated from the consultative processes and accompanying evidenced-based research. Some of those initiatives include:
- Focusing on regional trade, including ECO countries, as suggested by the public-private dialogue on trade with ECO countries;
- Upgrading infrastructure facilities, where needed;
- Establishing a Services Trade Development Council;
- Setting up a task force to facilitate the development of e-commerce;
- Strengthening training and product development institutes;
- Overhauling trade offices abroad, including updating a trade officers’ manual (which ITC will assist with in 2013 and 2014);
- Encouraging the opening of retail outlets;
- Marketing development assistance for regional countries, including market research, support for non-traditional exports and support for marketing efforts of the private sector;
- Strengthening research and out-reach capacity of women within chambers of commerce.
It is anticipated that the new round of public-private consultation, informed by ITC’s evidence-based research, will inform future trade policy reforms in Pakistan.
The studies can be downloaded here:
Enhancing Pakistan's agricultural sector exports to India
Enhancing dairy sector export competitiveness
Enhancing Pakistan's trading benefits from the proposed EU GSP Plus scheme
Enhancing livestock sector export competitiveness
Trade of industrial goods with India: Opportunities and challenges for Pakistan