Foreign Trade, FDI, and Capital Flows Study

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Import Duties and Performance: Some Stylized Facts for Pakistan

2020-05, Varela, Gonzalo, Gambetta, Juan Pedro, Ganz, Federico, Eberhard, Andreas, Franco, Sebastian, Lovo, Stefania

This note discusses the role that import duties have in Pakistan’s economy, and their links with export competitiveness. Import duties play two key roles. First, they are a source of tax revenues for governments. Second, when imposed on a product, they create a wedge between its world price, and the price paid domestically (as well as a wedge between its domestic price, and the price of its substitute in the domestic economy). These wedges affect the allocation of resources. They divert resources away from export markets - in which firms will only fetch world prices for the product - and into the domestic market, effectively creating an anti-export bias. Thus, an import duty is implicitly an export duty. When these duties are applied on inputs that different sectors use to produce, the duty induces firms to substitute away from that - now more expensive - input, and into other substitutes, thus affecting the otherwise optimal technological choice of firms, as well as increasing their production costs. This note is organized as follows: the first section presents a snapshot of import duties in Pakistan. The second section empirically examines the ways import duties induce an allocation of resources that is different from the one that will be obtained without the duty distortion. The third section looks at the role of tariff policy in the context of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The fourth section briefly describes the recent changes in the tariff policy institutional arrangement. The fifth section concludes and provides policy recommendations moving forward.

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Pakistan: Unlocking Private Sector Growth through Increased Trade and Investment Competitiveness

2018-10, Rocha, Nadia, Varela, Gonzalo

Evidence suggests that Pakistan has the potential for much faster and more diversified economic growth. Energizing trade can help Pakistan to realize its growth potential. Pakistan’s inward-oriented trade policies have had the effect of stalling Pakistan’s integration into regional and global value chains (GVCs). Pakistan’s failure to reform its trade policy to better foster export competitiveness can be attributed in part to institutional fragmentation within the government. This fragmentation has resulted in different agencies sometimes working at cross purposes. Efforts to reduce tariffs have been offset by the introduction of alternative protection instruments such as regulatory duties (RDs) and firm-specific special regulatory orders (SROs). In addition to tariffs, RDs and SROs, other obstacles to global integration include a heavy regulatory burden and perceived risks to investing and operating in the country, which have hurt efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Growth and competitiveness are also inhibited by inefficient trade facilitation policies, weak logistics services, and underdeveloped infrastructure. These constraints have made it difficult for Pakistan to fully exploit its proximity to China, a trade powerhouse, with which it has a free trade agreement. All in all, the anti-export bias of Pakistan’s trade policy has made it more difficult for outward-looking firms to grow by accessing global markets. A series of actions in the areas of trade policy, trade facilitation and connectivity, and institutional coordination could potentially stimulate Pakistan’s growth through increased trade and investment competitiveness. Integration with other countries in the region and neighboring regions, particularly East Asia, will allow Pakistan to diversify both its product basket and markets. Finally, full normalization of trade relations with India would allow Pakistan to benefit from India’s fast growth and promote complementarities, including valuechain activities and investment potential.