Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has approved the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18. The mid-term strategic trade policy framework has been formulated through an extensive consultative process spanning over almost a year keeping in view the current trends in global trading environment and the declining trend witnessed in Pakistan’s exports during 2015 due to exogenous shocks coupled with domestic factors, and inelastic import demand.
All the stakeholders in the public and private sector including Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, district Chambers, trade associations, private businesses, academia, think tanks, trade missions, Ministries/Divisions and other government agencies have been actively engaged in formulation of the Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18 that culminated with comprehensive deliberations during the Advisory Council Meeting chaired by the Minister for Commerce and attended by the stakeholders as well as prominent exporters and public sector decision makers.
Learning from the previous two medium term frameworks i.e. STPF 2009-12 and STPF 2012-15, it has been ensured that procedural and budgetary bottlenecks are removed in the STPF 2015-18 to achieve the targets of Enhancement of Annual Exports to US$ 35 Billion, Improvement in Export Competitiveness, Transition from “factor-driven” economy to “efficiency-driven” and “innovation-driven” economy, and Increasing Share in Regional Trade through key enablers of Competitiveness, Compliance to Standards, Policy Environment and Market access.
All business processes have simultaneously been formulated and Budgetary Allocation of Rs. 6 Billion has been approved to implement the trade policy initiatives for year 2015-16, while continued budgetary support in Financial Year 2016-17 and 2017-18 has been proposed. Under the STPF 2015-18, a short term Export Enhancement Strategy has also been devised that includes the identification of focus products, focus markets, and market linked focus products. The estimated cost of the short-term Export Enhancement Measures is Rs. 450 Million for the year 2015-16 and Rs. 1450 Million for three years i.e 2015-18. These amounts are included in the overall allocation for the Strategic Trade Policy Framework.
The Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18 has identified four main pillars i.e. Product Sophistication and Diversification (research and development, value addition, and branding), Market Access (enhancing share in existing markets, exploring new markets, trade diplomacy and regionalism), Institutional Development and Strengthening (restructuring, capacity building, and new institutions), and Trade Facilitation (reducing cost of doing business, standardization, and regulatory measures).
A Trade Committee (TC) headed by Federal Minister for Commerce has been established which would monitor the implementation of STPF 2015-18, remove bottlenecks, examine issues relating to trade promotion, strengthen international competitiveness and presenting Annual STPF Implementation Report to Cabinet Committee on Production & Exports as well as Federal Export Development & Promotion Board (FEDPB).