Boosting Trade Policy in Pakistan

Article excerpt

The experiences of countries around the world demonstrate that sound trade policies and public-private dialogue are essential to successful exporting. In Pakistan, sustainable trade expansion is hampered by a lack of training to build a cohort of well-informed policymakers and a deficit of engagement between the public and private sectors. To remedy these shortfalls, ITC is working with government and training organizations on trade-related technical assistance for Pakistan, a programme funded by the European Union.

Its aim is to build the capacity in Pakistan needed to formulate trade policies that enhance export competitiveness. Contributing factors essential to formulating optimal trade policies include:

* A high level of expertise among policymakers that matches constantly evolving trading systems;

* Policy research capacity that is responsive to policymakers' needs;

* An understanding of commercial dynamics and the business implications of trade policy measures and a regulatory framework;

* A structured public and private consultation mechanism that has an impact on national decision-making;

* An effective and efficient implementation, monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

While these factors have been promoted in Pakistan, further efforts are required as, all too often, issues preventing trade competitiveness either fail to reach policymakers due to weak public-private consultation, or they are not addressed through proper policy interventions due to lack of capacity.

To address these shortcomings, the Business and Trade Policy section at ITC has designed interventions that recognize current domestic conditions, international best practice and the need for continuity in activities once the programme has ended:

* Institutional capacity building of key local training institutes, which is intended to have an immediate effect on the capacity of government officers working on trade policy issues]

* Fostering comprehensive, regular and well-informed public-private dialogue.

Strengthening technical capacity

To comprehend trade policy issues and design interventions to address them, policymakers need knowledge of often complex multilateral and domestic trading environments. One way to advance such knowledge in a sustainable, predictable and cost-effective manner is through the development of trade-related expertise in local training and research organizations.

To meet this objective, ITC assisted in the development of a partnership agreement between the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD) and the World Trade Institute (WTI). The agreement covers the development of master trainers and training modules under the guidance of WTI mentors. These will become part of a joint WTI-PITAD certified course on International Trade Law and Commercial Diplomacy. Seven trade policy areas, including trade in services, trade in agriculture, international trade negotiations, trade policy formulation, competitive analysis, regional integration, and measurement methodologies, were selected for the training of master trainers and module development in 201 h An additional seven areas have been identified for 2012, covering trade remedies, intellectual property, dispute settlement, non-tariff measures, preferential trade agreements, trade and environment, and trade and investment. …