Today is a critical point in time because the major
trading partners of Pakistan are increasingly concerned about their
national security and are erecting defences. If Pakistan cannot comply
with the security procedures demanded by the buyers of our products, we
risk losing out to other nations that can and will...
These observations were made by Syed Irtiqa Ahmed
Zaidi, Economic Consultant Ministry of Commerce at the Pakistan Trade
and Transport Facilitation Conference (PTTF) 2003 jointly organized by
the National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee and UNCTAD in
Karachi last week.
To improve the competitive position in the current
globalization scenario, Government of Pakistan is however pursuing a
proactive approach and has prioritized the areas of technological
up-gradation, value-addition, productivity enhancement and quality
enforcement. These areas are being addressed through sect oral policy
formation and development of vision of these sectors.
The government has developed textile vision 2010,
growth strategy for engineering sector (Engineering Vision 2010),
Leather Vision, Fertilizer Policy and industrial policy for
pharmaceutical sector in order to strengthen the manufacturing base
promote investment and increase the share of these vital sectors of the
economy in the country's GDP.
The government took an initiative during last three
years to improve Pakistan's competitive position by reducing cost of
doing business and investment in Pakistan.
Accordingly import duties on finished goods and
industrial raw materials have been reduced in consultation with
stakeholders of various industrial sectors of the economy.
Owing to burdensome demands of the foreign trade
partners the transit time at the Karachi port as well as Port Qasim has
been increased which is obviously disliked by the intended vessels
carrying transit cargo for the land locked countries like Afghanistan
and Central Asian Republics. Instead of coming to Pakistani ports
generally prefer to call on Iranian Port Bandar Abbas despite it is 21
per cent more expensive as compared to Karachi Port. Obviously, if it is
called inefficiency on the part of the port handling, it is diverting
cargo business from Pakistan towards Iranian port is that, their transit
time is much faster as compared to handling at Pakistani ports.
According to a participant of the conference that it takes hardly 6-8
days for clearance at Bandar Abbas as compared to 15-20 days at Karachi
port. The calling ships naturally avoid the port charges on account of
inefficient handlings at Karachi or Bin Qasim ports.
Peter Faust, Head, Trade Logistics Branch, and UNCTAD,
speaking at the conference said that the terrorist attacks on September
11 2001, illustrated the critical yet fragile nature of international
transport system. For the global economy to flourish, this system must
continue to provide safe, secure, efficient, and reliable services to
travelers and customers in parts of the world.
At the 2002 G8 Summit in Canada, heads of state
agreed on a set of cooperative actions to promote greater security of
land, sea and air transport while facilitating the cost-effective and
efficient flow of people, cargo and vehicles for legitimate economic and
He said that trade facilitation is a critical element
in any country's economic infrastructure. It aims at developing a widely
accepted, consistent, transparent and predictable environment for
international trade and transactions.
Addressing the conference, John Raven, International
Consultant and Facilitation advisor was of the view that in Pakistan, as
in many other countries, economic expansion is a prerequisite for
political and social stability.
Many of the obstacles and opportunities in the path
of expansion are political and need to be handled by political
intervention. Such features include market access, and preferential
tariffs and rules of origin. They are negotiated in the WTO, in or with
such regional group as the EEU, APEC or ASEAN or through bilateral trade
Here success depends less on justice or need than on
the ability to deploy influence and exercise pressure.
Pakistan, placed by a variety of geo-political
circumstances outside the main regional groupings, has serious
disadvantages, John remarked. There are other obstacles at the level of
official and commercial operations, however, that have a very powerful
effect on external trade performance and national income and revenue.
They subject the individual international trade transaction to a wide
range of diverse but cumulatively very powerful constraints, on-costs
and competitive handicaps.
Success, on a scale of the utmost significance for
Pakistan, can be attained by well-managed day-to-day trading in the
large and lucrative sector of the global market place already open to
John observed that the most successful trading
nations, or so-called developed economies, have gone far to reduce or
eliminate many of the regulatory and other frictional factors that still
inhibit and restrict their global supply, production and delivery
systems, but they are also assuming and imposing a number of new,
potentially very damaging requirements to meet acute concerns for