April 2, 2022: Pakistan’s fifth Trade Policy Review (TPC) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) was successfully concluded on Friday, according to a press release issued today.
All WTO members are subject to review, and the frequency of members’ trade policies and practices depends on their share in world trade. Pakistan’s last Trade Policy Review took place in March 2015.
The WTO General Council meets as the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) to undertake trade policy reviews of members under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The review is the monitoring of national trade policies and as such is an activity of fundamental importance throughout the work of the WTO.
The Pakistani delegation was led virtually by Mr. Muhammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui, Federal Secretary of Commerce. Over 30 officials from over 20 government ministries/departments participated virtually in the meeting, while the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the WTO was physically present at the WTO in Geneva. Her Excellency Mrs. Bettina Waldmann, Permanent Representative of Germany to the WTO, was Pakistan’s presenter and provided insightful commentary on Pakistan’s trade policy in her opening and closing remarks.
The TPR is a very rigorous activity that spans nearly a year and culminates in the production of two reports, one by the WTO Secretariat and the other by the government under review. ‘exam. These reports form the basis of the review process during which members provide comments, seek clarifications and make recommendations.
The government report written under the supervision of eminent academics was highly appreciated by members for its open and realistic assessment of the challenges faced and Pakistan’s response to them.
During the review, which took place over two days, nearly 320 questions covering a wide range of trade and economic areas were submitted in writing by member countries. A committee comprised of members from various federal government departments, including the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the WTO, has been set up within the Ministry of Commerce to respond to issues raised by member states.
During the review, 33 Member States intervened to comment on Pakistan’s policies, pose additional questions and offer their views on cross-cutting issues.
Members noted, in particular, Pakistan’s economic resilience in the face of Covid-19 shocks and its rapid economic recovery. Members appreciated Pakistan’s tariff rationalization policies, its move towards increasing exports and reducing the current account deficit, especially following the balance of payments crisis and the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.
Pakistan was commended for its effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the installation of the National Single Window which would align with the national priorities of regional connectivity of trade facilitation and transport, and integration in global and regional value chains.
Members took note of legislative texts in the areas of trade and industrial expansion, including STPF 2020-25, mobile manufacturing policy, automotive manufacturing policy, SME development and youth entrepreneurship, the e-commerce policy, the Ehsas program and the IG law, among others. Looking to the future, Pakistan’s focus on green economy and gender mainstreaming in line with SDG 5 was also noted. Pakistan’s openness to foreign direct investment and streamlined regulatory practices were also welcomed by members.
Members encouraged Pakistan to focus more on diversifying its export base and using the multilateral trading system to pursue its development goals.
Members particularly appreciated Pakistan’s active engagement in the WTO and its strong support for the commitment of the multilateral trading system to uphold the fundamental values and principles of the WTO and to support developing countries.
The Federal Trade Secretary thanked all members for their keen interest and valuable feedback on this fifth Trade Policy Review.