Public-private talks must for trade policy framework, says DG

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Ministry of Commerce’s forthcoming Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2018-2023 will be formulated while incorporating the insight obtained from constructive and broad-based engagement between the public and private sectors.

Noman Aslam, Director General of Trade Policy Ministry of Commerce said this while addressing a roundtable ‘Achieving Export Competitiveness in Pakistan’held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), here on Tuesday.

He said that Pakistan’s movement towards a more forward-looking and longer-term approach since 2009, when the MoC drafted its first 3-year STPF. In this regard, he mentioned the Ministry’s forthcoming trade policy framework, which will be valid for 5 years, between 2018 and 2023.

Speaking on Pakistan’s decline in exports over the last 2 decades, Gonzalo J. Varela, Senior Economist at the World Bank Group (WBG),presented the detail of 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, he 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, Nadia Rocha, Senior Economist at the WBG, 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 few towards creating a more favorable climate for foreign direct investment. In this regard, she also highlighted the need for greater trade liberalization efforts, which can boost productivity and export competitiveness in Pakistan.

Earlier, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director at SDPI, highlighted key issues identified by the business community in the context of nation-wide consultations held by the organization.

He explained how, despite recent investments in the energy sector, the cost of energy was still higher than in regional economies.