The third Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Pakistan took place in Geneva at the WTO Secretariat at Geneva from 16th to 18th of January 2008. A high level delegation arrived in Geneva, led by Mr. Shahzada Alam Monnoo, Commerce Minister and included senior officials from the Ministries of Commerce, Agriculture, Finance, Industries, Information Technology (IT), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Board of investment (BOI) and Pakistan Mission to the WTO. The Director General of the WTO, Mr.Pascal Lamy , Secretariat officials and a large number of WTO members complimented the Pakistani delegation on the excellent preparatory work and the results . Many were of the view that this was one of the best TPR exercises.
Mr. Monnoo opened the meeting by complimenting the Secretariat and the members for the report compiled and nearly 200 questions which were posed to Pakistan. He apprised the membership of significant reforms and economic growth that had been achieved over the past 6 years in Pakistan, including average annual GDP growth of 7%, doubling of size of economy, decline in unemployment from 8.3% to 5.3%, a ten-fold rise of the stock-market and graduation to the medium group of developing countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI). He went on to outline key objectives of Pakistan including the current Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations and the constructive role it was playing. He ended his statement with a brief account of regional, bilateral and unilateral trade liberalisation initiatives that Pakistan was pursuing.
Ambassador Karen Tan of Singapore, who was the Discussant for Pakistan’s TPR, commended the macroeconomic and trade performance of Pakistan and its pro-active and positive role in the DDA negotiations. At the same time, she also pointed out the many challenges including political and security crises that Pakistan was facing.
A large number of the WTO's membership attended the TPR. Twenty of these countries including Australia, Brazil, the European Communities, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, and the United States were represented at the Ambassadorial level. With regard to economic and trade regimes, the membership strongly praised the leadership role of Pakistan in the current Doha Round of negotiations. At the same time, through their verbal as well as written questions, they pointed out several shortcomings in Pakistan’s trade policy regime. In particular, India and Israel questioned Pakistan’s current trade policy of denial of MFN status to them.
In response to these observations, Mr. Ashraf Hayat, the Additional Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, in his closing statement explained the rationale for adoption of some of these policies and also indicated that Pakistan would deliberate on these issues and make every effort to address them in due course. Finally, Ambassador Himanen of Finland summed up the members comments and thanked the Pakistani delegation for its interest and hard work.