Pakistan launches Rollout Roadmap for WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement for Cross-Border Agencies
(Islamabad/Geneva) The rollout of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for cross-border regulatory agencies was launched today by the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce and the Revenue Mobilization, Investment and Trade (ReMIT) project of the International Trade Centre (ITC) funded by the UK government through the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).
Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. The TFA entered into force in February 2017. Pakistan became the 51st member of World Trade Organisation (WTO) to ratify the TFA in October 2017.
The Advisor the Prime Minister on Government Effectiveness, Mr Jahanzeb Khan chaired this national event. Speaking on the occasion, he said: ‘WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreements provided an excellent opportunity for Pakistan to cut business costs through transparent and efficient system for clearance of goods across borders. COVID-19 disrupted economic activity worldwide. Thus, in Pakistan, after a slight contraction of real GDP in FY2020, implementation of WTO-TFA suggests important policy measures that would help Pakistan’s economy to rebound. Supporting our export-oriented industries and SMEs will facilitate these firms to increase their export earnings and integrating with international value chains.”
Heads of cross-border regulatory agencies, including the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Customs, Commerce, Pakistan Standards Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Animal Quarantine Department (AQD), Department of Plant Protection (DPP), Anti-Narcotic Force (ANF), Pakistan Single Window (PSW) and other departments participated.
Exporters, importers, industry representatives and port operators also participated in the event.
Nadia Aftab representative of UNIDO expressed her views on behalf of the UN’s Resident Coordinator.
The Secretary of Commerce said that the Ministry of Commerce was restructuring the WTO wing in the Ministry and reorganizing National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), earlier called the NTTFC, National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee. It is in line with ReMIT project’s recommendation, so that implementation of TFA commitments is systematically coordinated and monitored, and progress updates are shared with stakeholders and to WTO Geneva on regular basis.
The Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue said they are committed to working closely with Commerce and all other regulatory agencies and business community to achieve TFA implementation targets within the timelines set by the Government.
Business Leaders from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Pak-Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr Zubair Motiwala appreciated the activities of the ReMIT project in creating awareness and practically helping their members across the country in recognizing and playing their roles.
Private businesses and women traders gained a better understanding of TFA commitments and its benefits to the trade.
Dr Muhammad Saeed, Chief Trade Facilitation and Policy for Business, ITC Geneva said trade facilitation had important implications for a country’s export competitiveness. Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) suffer disproportionately from inefficiencies in customs procedures and other border administration measures.
Heads of PSQCA, DRAP, SMEDA, AQD and DPP also shared their views and showed organizational commitment to play their part in successful implementation of TFA.
Dr Jawwad Agha, National Coordinator and advisor to ReMIT project said a major outcome of ReMIT project was the provision of a platform for consultations among the Cross Border Regulatory Agencies in various domains of trade facilitation. It created a realization among trade facilitation stakeholders in rising to adopt their roles and responsibilities and play their part in improving cross border trading environment.
Dr Agha shared that in the next phases of the project the private and public sector would be further assisted in brushing up their advocacy and negotiation skills in developing an inclusive environment for trade policy formulation and business reforms, without any gender bias.
FCDO and ITC reiterated their support to the project and appreciated the outcome of the project in raising awareness, capacity building and institutional strengthening for trade facilitation.
ReMIT is funded by FCDO with technical assistance from ITC. The project is providing technical assistance in building a conducive business environment, strengthening trade and investment support institutions; connecting to international value chains; mainstreaming inclusive and Green Trade; supporting regional economic integration and providing trade and market intelligence. Key partner agencies from public sector participating in ReMIT are MoC, FBR, SMEDA, TDAP, PSQCA, DPP, AQD, ANF, DRAP and provincial revenue departments.
About the International Trade Centre
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets. It thereby contributes to sustainable economic development within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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