Trade in Services is the main driver of economy and development of the sector through coherent and inclusive public private dialogue (PPD) mechanism established by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the EU funded TRTA II programme is a step in the right direction; said Mr. Muhammad Shahzad Arbab, Secretary Ministry of Commerce while addressing the inaugural session of the PPD organized by ITC at Islamabad on 30 April.
Mr. Arbab highlighted that the contribution of Services sector is growing in the national economies of many countries including Pakistan and there is a need to take positive steps to provide enabling environment to the service providers at home and greater market access through negotiations. He flagged the current plurilateral negotiations taking place at World Trade Organization on Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and informed that Pakistan will engage in those negotiations in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. He appreciated ITC for providing a plate form for those consultations among public and private sector.
Mr. Johan Sorensen, Head of Political, Trade and Communication Section, EU delegation to Pakistan highlighted the market access provided by the EU to Pakistan in the form of GSP plus. He emphasized that Pakistan should take advantage of the scheme through positive regulatory reform. He highlighted that Pakistan is an important country and should engage in TISA negotiations to get maximum benefit from the Services trade liberalization.
Mr. Mohammad Owais Khan, Programme Officer ITC, welcomed the participants and highlighted the rationale, process and mechanism of the PPD. He highlighted the efforts undertaken under component 1 to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders on international trade issues and the institutionalization of PPD mechanism. He underscored the importance of Trade in Services and in this connection the vast opportunities available to Pakistan to further its exports in this sector. He highlighted the previous work done by ITC for Pakistan on Trade in Services and their incorporation into Government trade policies and domestic regulatory reform.
The Technical session of the PPD was chaired by Mr. Asad Hyauddin Joint Secretary WTO Ministry of Commerce who also informed the participants about the policy, procedures, stance and engagement of the government in TISA negotiations. Mr. Ahmad Mukhtar, an independent research consultant, who also represented Pakistan at WTO Services negotiations for five years, presented findings and recommendations of his research study. More than hundred participants from public sector, private sector civil society and academia participated in the PPD whereas Dr. Manzoor Ahmad, former ambassador of Pakistan to WTO, Mr. Saifullah Khan CEO SU Khan Associates, Dr. Joseph Wilson, Chairman Competition Commission of Pakistan and representatives from TDAP, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, AlBaraka Islamic Bank etc were some of the notable panel discussants. The recommendations emanating from PPD will be submitted to the government for consideration and potential implementation.