The Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) (2020-2025), which sets out Pakistan’s goals for exports for the next five years, will be revealed by the Ministry of Commerce to the cabinet for approval. Under this policy, the government aims to increase Pakistan’s exports to $46 billion by the fiscal year 2024-2025.
The objective of the plan has been stated as working on the efficiency of local industries in order to meet international standards. Some of the policies suggested have been ensuring trouble-free refunds to the business community and continuity in timely payments, as incentives to exporters. Other recommendations include improving competitiveness of manufacturing through cheaper access to imported raw materials, changing the tariff structure to increase efficiency of the existing domestic activities and renegotiating trade agreements to bring maximum benefits.
One of the most noteworthy policies which the STPF promises is diversification into new sectors. Under STPF, side by side with inclusion of textile, leather, surgical products and Pakistan’s other top exports, 26 sectors have also been included for paying special attention for their export.
The STPF has been in the works since November. While it sounds promising, it is hoped that the cabinet adjusts it to the prevailing economic conditions of the world, which have been ravaged by the coronavirus epidemic. Pakistan has not been left unscathed by the epidemic – almost half of Pakistan’s exports are directed to the countries most affected by the coronavirus.
With textile and leather industries making up a majority of exports, Pakistan thus will have to gauge the economic revival in these countries or look to destination markets that do not produce low-valued products domestically. It is essential that the STPF tap in coronavirus conditions into its policies – both the damage that the epidemic has caused, as well as the unexpected opportunities it could have for certain products. Certain exporters better able to tap into potential trading relationships through product diversification or via better export strategies may find it easier to revive their export sales.