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

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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.
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Rocha, Nadia; Varela, Gonzalo. 2018. Pakistan: Unlocking Private Sector Growth through Increased Trade and Investment Competitiveness. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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