WTO Supports Pakistan’s Economic Reform Efforts
World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo visited Pakistan last week for a series of high-level meetings with the government, private sector and academia.
DG Azevêdo met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan, and Minister of Planning, National Reforms, and Development Ahsan Iqbal, in addition to senior representatives from other ministries and local government.
“Amid a mixed global economic environment, Pakistan has been setting out some clear steps to invigorate the economy, as well as to improve regional connectivity,” said Azevêdo. “Overall, these reforms can go a long way, and I think that trade, and the system of global trade rules provided by the WTO, can play an important role in supporting these efforts.”
Pakistan ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement in October of last year.
“This work can help to complement the reforms that Pakistan has been making to improve the economic climate and attract foreign investment, and it will help to speed up regional integration initiatives,” Azevêdo added. “The agreement could cut trading costs in Pakistan by around 13 percent.”
In recent years, WTO members have been able to deliver further reforms to global trade rules, Azevêdo noted, which will have an impact on improving the terms of trade in Pakistan and around the world. “We need to continue implementing these agreements in full,” he said, “delivering on their potential benefits and looking to deliver more outcomes in the future.”
During the visit, Azevêdo participated in a seminar organized by the region’s Economic Cooperation Organization, and spoke at the National School of Public Policy in Lahore. The Director General also delivered a lecture at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS).
Also on the agenda with Pakistani officials were the WTO’s breakthroughs in the recent Ministerial Conferences held in Bali and Nairobi, the future negotiating work of the organization, and Pakistan’s efforts towards economic reform and regional integration — including through initiatives such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.