Understanding NTMs means understanding trade interests
Understanding the policy implications of non-tariff measures (NTMs) is crucial to policymakers and researchers for them to defend the trade interests of Pakistan, according to Mr Tahir Maqsood, Director-General of PITAD.
Mr Maqsood was addressing the inaugural session of a two-day training course on “Economics and Policy of NTMs” held recently at the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), Islamabad, Pakistan.
The training is organized under the International Trade Centre (ITC) implemented trade-policy capacity building component, and is part of a €10 million European Union-funded project to increase Pakistan’s trade capacity. The course is jointly conducted by ITC and PITAD, with technical assistance from the Switzerland-based World Trade Institute (WTI).
The purpose of the training course is to build the capacity of the officers working in various ministries and government departments on economic issues and the policy of NTMs. It focuses on the difference between NTMs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), how NTMs can become barriers to trade, government motives for utilizing and their welfare effects as well as taking an in-depth look at the many guises many purposes NTMs fill. Such issues are the core topic of the modern trade experts and negotiators. The training has been designed to equip the government participants with a sound understanding of the issues and how to contribute to government policies in their professional endeavors.
Mr Berend De Groot, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Pakistan while addressing the concluding session of the programme, emphasized the need to improve the image of Pakistani products, labelled as 'Made in Pakistan'. Mr De Groot urged the government officials to utilize the training opportunity in the most productive manner while disposing off their official responsibilities.
One participant at the training, Jaunaid Usman Akram, a Second Secretary at the Federal Board of Revenue, said following completion of the first day that “before attending the training, I believed that NTMs are regulatory tools in the hands of government but after attending the first day of the training I believe that it is double edge sword and the government has to choose whether a developing economy breaths by it or bleeds by its misuse”.Benefits to policymaking
Seema Raza Bokhai, a female participant and Chief at the WTO Cell at the Ministry of Industry, said that the training was “very beneficial for my work from both an academic and practical perspective. In the future it will benefit my input in industrial policymaking”.
The training is delivered by PITAD’s Mr Muhammad Shafiq Haider and the WTI’s Professor Olivier Cadot through video conference. Under the programme Mr Haider has benefited from mentoring be Professor Cadot, a leading international expert on the topic, for a six-month period, during which he developed modular learning programmes on the topic to suit various audiences. This training represents the first chance for Mr Haider to put his knowledge gained into practice.
After the first day of teaching, Mr Haider said “it has been an enriching experience for me learning and teaching the economics and policy of NTMs to a very heterogeneous audience. ITC must be appreciated for its efforts for creating the opportunity of knowledge capital for a developing country like Pakistan.”
Commenting on the experience of module development, Mr Cadot said: “I had extensively interacted in order to improve the module’s structure and background material. Starting from a proposed structure that was essentially descriptive and heavily revolving around a long list of measures, we had moved to a more analytical structure organized around the analysis of NTM impacts on the economy rather than on their nature.” He added that the module-developed process “benefitted immensely through face-to-face interaction during the Bern training period”, which enabled the “transfer of ‘soft’ knowledge and experience which would otherwise not have been possible”.
ITC implemented Component of TRTA II seeks to build the capacity of government officials working in various ministries and departments on trade policy and negotiations besides other interventions.
Accordingly, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was facilitated between PITAD and the WTI for institutional capacity building of local training and research institutes and training of a number of master trainers. In turn, these master trainers are called upon to further disseminate their knowledge gained to policy makers working in various ministries through short trainings.
Through the approach the programme wishes to ensure both sustainability through building local capacity) and excellence in trade policy training to government officials. So far thirteen modules have been developed out of which seven modules have been accredited by WTI for a joint WTI-PITAD course on International Trade Law and commercial Diplomacy. The remaining six modules are expected to be accredited by WTI to the joint certificate course in the coming months.