April 2, 2022: Pakistan’s 5th Trade Policy Review (TPR) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was successfully concluded on Friday, according to a press statement released today.
All WTO members are subject to review and the frequency of members’ trade policies and practices depends on their shares of world trade. The last review of Pakistan’s trade policy took place in March 2015.
The General Council of the WTO meets as the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) to conduct trade policy reviews of members under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The review oversees national trade policy and as such is a fundamentally important activity running through the entire work of the WTO.
The Pakistani delegation was virtually led by Federal Trade Minister Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui. More than 30 officials from more than 20 ministries/departments virtually participated in the meeting, while the Permanent Representation of Pakistan to the WTO was physically present at the WTO in Geneva. Her Excellency Dr. Bettina Waldmann, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the WTO, was the discussant of Pakistan and provided insightful commentary on Pakistan’s trade policy in both her opening and closing remarks.
TPR is a very rigorous activity that takes almost a year and culminates in the production of two reports, one by the WTO secretariat and one by the government under investigation. These reports form the basis for the review process in which members provide their feedback, clarifications and recommendations.
The government report, overseen by leading academics, was highly appreciated by members for its open and realistic assessment of the challenges it faced and Pakistan’s response to address them.
During the two-day evaluation, nearly 320 questions were asked in writing by Member States covering a wide range of areas from a trade and economic perspective. Within the Ministry of Commerce, a committee composed of members from various federal government departments, including Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the WTO, has been set up to respond to member states’ questions.
During the evaluation, 33 Member States intervened to comment on Pakistani policies, ask additional questions and provide feedback on crosscutting issues.
In particular, members highlighted Pakistan’s economic resilience to the shocks of Covid-19 and the rapid economic recovery. Members appreciated Pakistan’s policy of tariff rationalization, its push for export growth and a narrowing current account deficit, particularly in the wake of the balance of payments crisis and the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pakistan was commended for its effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the installation of the National Single Window, which would align with national priorities of regional connectivity of facilitation and trade transport, and integration into global and regional value chains.
Members took note of the legislative acts on trade and industrial expansion, including STPF 2020-25, Mobile Manufacturing Policy, Automotive Manufacturing Policy, SME Development and Youth Entrepreneurship, E-Commerce Policy, Ehsas Program and GI Act, among Others. Looking to the future, Pakistan’s focus on a green economy and gender mainstreaming, in line with SDG 5, also stood out. Pakistan’s openness to foreign direct investment and streamlining of regulatory practices was also praised by members.
Members encouraged Pakistan to further focus on diversifying its export base and leveraging the multilateral trading system to achieve its development goals.
Members particularly appreciated Pakistan’s active involvement in the WTO and its strong support for the deployment of the multilateral trading system to uphold WTO values and fundamental principles and support for developing countries.
The Federal Secretary of Commerce thanked all members for their great interest and valuable feedback on this fifth trade policy review.
Posted on: 2022-04-02T23:36:38+05:00
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