22 Oct 2013

WTI assists in delivering training across Pakistan

The World Trade Institute (WTI) is providing support to Pakistan as it prepares to update and implement a roadmap on the export of services. Three one-day training sessions relating to services trade took place across Pakistan in early October.

Implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD) with the assistance of WTI, the sessions in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad attracted close to 300 Pakistani public and private sector representatives.

The trainings provided an opportunity for participants to gain a finer understanding of the complex range of issues relating to services trade and the scope for greater insertion of Pakistani service firms in global value chains. Their increased knowledge should enable participants to more effectively contribute to government policies in this area, ITC said.

WTI director of external programmes, Pierre Sauvé, stressed the high degree of unilateral liberalisation already undertaken by Pakistan. The challenge now is to pursue reciprocal opportunities across all possible negotiating settings, from the Doha Round to newly launched discussions on the creation of a plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) in which Pakistan is an active participant, he said.

In his presentations, Sauvé emphasised the need to buttress the country’s trade and investment climate and to shape external perceptions through targeted steps at image building and branding. Equally important was the need to explore all avenues for greater insertion in cross-border supply chains (so-called Mode 1 trade in services) and to ensure the continuous upgrading of locally supplied skills ready for deployment in service industries, including through enhanced vocational training. These, he argued, are necessary pre-conditions for Pakistan to fulfill its strong potential in services trade.

Pakistan’s readiness to advance a blueprint for the export of services was underlined at a high-level meeting of 30 senior officials and private sector representatives held on 9 October in Islamabad.

The event was jointly organised by the ITC and PITAD as part of the ITC-implemented Trade Policy Capacity Building Component of the European Union-funded Trade Related Technical Assistance Program (TRTA-II) for Pakistan.

At the meeting, Sauvé shared thoughts on the range of steps Pakistan needs to take to enhance its trade policy formulation process in services. He also pinpointed key lessons learned from ongoing innovative efforts to support services export growth in China, Colombia and Mauritius.

A number of practical steps aimed at services trade promotion were discussed, including updating and implementing the Services Exports Roadmap study prepared in 2007 for the Ministry of Commerce under the TRTA-1 project component. Equally crucial was the need to identify the country’s key growth bottlenecks in services and decide how domestic reform and external liberalisation efforts can tackle these.

Sajid Hussain, PITAD’s Director-General, said that the TRTA-II programme had given a strong impetus to building the capacity of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors on issues relating to international trade. Since the programme began in 2011, more than 1,000 stakeholders have been trained on different trade policy issues.