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Web Exclusive | November 2016

Normalise trade ties with India, Pak told

The World Bank has urged Pakistan to fully normalise trade relations with India to facilitate deep forms of trade integration as this step would allow Pakistan to benefit from New Delhi's fast growth and promote complementarities, including value chain activities and investment potential. This is one of the key recommendations of a technical note titled "Pakistan-unlocking private sector growth through increased trade and investment competitiveness" prepared by a World Bank team comprised of Rafay Khan of the Trade and Competitiveness, South Asia and Nadia Rocha of the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group. Guillermo Arenas, Olivier Cattaneo, Michael Ferrantino and Saima Zuberi also gave their input to the note.

World Bank's team argues that Pakistan still needs to fully leverage its strategic location and its proximity not only to regional but also global trade leaders. Integration with its neighbouring countries and regions is all the more important given the need for the country to diversify both its product basket and markets. Removal of international sanctions on Iran, as a starting point offers Pakistan the greatest opportunity to enter a relatively untapped market. 

According to the World Bank, Pakistan needs to make Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) effective. To streamline implementation of bilateral economic co-operation reforms, it would be important to make the JEC more effective. The JEC should meet on a biannual basis with the predetermined agenda. The JEC should also invite members of Pakistan Business Council (PBC), the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry and consumer associations to discuss outstanding issues. The JEC should become the main forum to review the status of large-scale projects that impact transit cooperation.
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