Pakistan’s Trade Policy, 1999–2008: An Assessment
Employing the Annual Trade Policy issued each year by the Ministry of Commerce as a simplified case study, this paper examines the reasons for the ineffectiveness of this policy instrument and the inherent inconsistencies and conflicting signals to the market that it contains. Capacity constraints and the lack of a sufficient belief in the virtues of trade liberalisation have led to a situation where the more significant trade reforms have almost invariably been ushered in by the IMF/IFIs. It is argued that reforms under external influence are not always properly sequenced, and are seldom of a lasting nature; that ‘ownership’ of trade reforms can only be ensured when the policy-makers and the decision-makers come to understand trade policy’s role in nurturing quality institutional environment. This would require, inter alia, institutional capacity strengthening of the Ministry of Commerce (and its subordinate bodies) and giving it effective authority to formulate trade policy.