Geneva, March 31, 2015 (PPI-OT): WTO members lauded government’s economic policies, which have resulted in putting the economy back on track. A number of WTO members, during the Trade Policy Review held in Geneva on 24th March, 2015, appreciated the economic performance of the government in last two years. Most of the members were of the view that Pakistan’s economy has shown remarkable resilience in the wake of security situation, devastating floods and energy shortages.
The Federal Secretary Commerce Muhammad Shahzad Arbab presented Pakistan Trade Policy Country report to the WTO Trade Policy Review body comprising of 160 WTO member countries. He led a senior level delegation comprising of Ministries of Commerce, Finance, Information Technology and Federal Board Revenue. Secretary Commerce stated that the Trade Policy Review acts as a catalyst for change, invites greater openness and transparency in trade policy formulation, as well as an impetus for Pakistan to move forward in its reform process.
While commenting on the performance of Pakistan’s economy, the WTO members mentioned that despite daunting challenges, government was able to post healthy growth in the GDP. The government also managed to reduce fiscal deficit, which has been a long-standing challenge, through strong fiscal consolidation.
The members also lauded the lowering of inflation to a single digit, building of foreign exchange reserves, increasing tax collection, privatization of the public sector enterprises and elaborate reforms in the energy sector. Representatives of leading Global economies like US, EU, Japan, China, Brazil, Turkey, India, Australia and Canada commented on Pakistan’s trade and economic policies.
The members also appreciated Pakistan over the successful implementation of the External Fund Facility under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. Pakistan has successfully completed five quarterly reviews of EFF and is on track to complete the sixth review.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, while offering full support and cooperation to Pakistan stated that Pakistan has the ninth largest work force population in the world, of which 70% is less than 30 years of age. By introducing reforms supportive policies, Pakistan can take advantage of this demographic dividend. The representative of United States congratulated Pakistan for successful auction of 3G and 4G spectrum bands and the approval of the LNG terminal at Karachi Port.
While referring to Pakistan’s low ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, the members suggested that necessary measures should be taken to facilitate business in the country including removal of bureaucratic red tape and reduction in the number of steps involved in starting businesses. The members acknowledged the Web-based one custom system and automation of procedures, which has shortened the clearance time.
While commenting on Pakistan’s trade policies WTO members suggested tariff liberalization, lifting of import ban on import of livestock from North America and Canada, adoption of more investor friendly mineral extraction policies, joining of WTO international agreements on Information Technology and Government procurement. They also encouraged the government of Pakistan to continue their efforts for complete elimination of discriminatory SROs.
Most of the member countries also highlighted Vision 2025 adopted by the Government last year, and appreciated that through this reform agenda, the government has the long-term strategy to transform Pakistan into a middle-income country by 2025 and among one of the top economies by 2047.
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