Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-15: Comments and Recommendations

Spearhead Special Report – 15.12.2014

STPF 2012-15 outlines various aspects of trade that need to be worked on to further the goals of economic revival. While this document calls for greater attention to some pertinent areas of trade, it fails in terms of being a country-specific, homegrown solution to Pakistan’s trade woes. As a continuation of an earlier policy from 2009-2012, it has not been updated to take advantage of certain changes that have taken place since that time. The document thus, does not take into account the changes in the policy environment such as the GSP plus status awarded by the EU to Pakistan—ideally, the trade policy should have been updated to help capitalize on this opportunity. Moreover, the document bases the likelihood of the success of the trade policy on the idea that it has helped achieve success in the past as well—while both assumptions need to be substantiated, it is also the job of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce to take into account the dynamic policy environment while setting economic goals.

This document has added legitimacy to the argument that there is a great need to have a clearer vision in order to frame policies that work well in unison towards a common goal. If the goal, in fact, is to increase exports to USD95bn during 2012-2015 (as against the current PKR24bn level), the understanding that focusing all energies on keeping the national currency high compared to the dollar will be counter-productive is essential. Without the realization that even short- term strategies should augment long/ medium term policies, it will become impossible to have clarity and make progress.

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