THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Import Licensing in Pakistan
Pakistan’s import trade in the private sector is regulated by an elaborate licensing system. It is complex in its structure and detailed in its operation. The structural complexity of the system arises from the simultaneous operation of different types of licences which seek to regulate the import sector in microscopic detail. It regulates the volume of imports, the composition of imports, and, in certain cases, even the sources of imports. This elaborate system is administered by the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (CCI&E), in the Ministry of Commerce, who is the principal licensing authority in the country. His task is to assess import needs and then to allocate scarce foreign-exchange resources earmarked for the private sector. In arriving at his decisions he is guided, on the one hand, by the latest market intelligence reports regarding the price trends of imported commodities as the indicators of what the market actually needs, and on the other hand, by official views of what the market should need, and in what proportion, to conform to the broader scheme of ensuring an optimal allocation of domestic resources. The formulation of the semi-annual Import Policy, which is the sum-total of all these varied and complex decisions, is, therefore, a momentous undertaking, and occupies a central position in the broader strategy of economic planning.