Trade to play crucial role in post COVID-19 economic recovery: experts

By: Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD:  Trade can play a key role in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery. Therefore, aligning policies with emerging realities is pertinently important. The global trade experts shred this viewpoint during a webinar ‘Trade essential for Post Covid Economic Recovery’ organized by International Trade Center Geneva, (ITC) in collaboration with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).  

Secretary Exports Policy Customs, FBR, Mr. Ihsanullah Shah, was of opinion that post-COVID-19 trade is facing unprecedented crises as many of the enterprises were struggling for survival. He said that the government has taken a number of steps to pull the exporters out of this grim situation including a blanket exemption and enhancing the rebate rates on almost 300 items including surgical goods, sports-related goods, textile-related goods etc. 

Dr. Muhammad Saeed, Senior Policy Advisor Trade Facilitation, ITC, Geneva, explained that COVID-19, which was a public health crisis led to disruption on the supply and demand side resulting in an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Thus, trade policy is part of the solution, and it has emerged that trade facilitation is important whether it is access to the vaccine or PPE or access to the production process related to imports and exports. He opined that the mindset needs to be changed pertaining to policy consideration and regulatory compliance for the exporter and importers. 

National Coordinator of ITC-ReMIT, Dr Tauqir Shah, suggested that the key to role in post COVID-19 recovery has to be played by digitally enabled SMEs. Therefore, the trade support institutions have to hand hold SMEs, especially women owned SMEs in order to become digitally enabled. 

Dr Aadil Nakhoda, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, IBA Karachi, was of the view that the biggest challenge is the disruption to global value chain. He said that the trade cost has increased both for the importer and exporters and this has immense implications for trade.  

Gender and trade expert Ms Roubina Toufiq, on the occasion, highlighted the importance of information sharing and government support for women-owned enterprises. 

Trade Facilitation expert, ITC, Geneva, Mr. Edwin Gaarder, while sharing his expert opinion said that. COVID-19 pandemic has led us to a massive crisis in terms of economic perspective. He said that MSMEs were hardest hit as they were less prepared in the time of crisis. He added further that the trade support institution has an important role in transit towards the new normal. He suggested that Pakistan has to think about positioning itself in this model of globalization. Besides, more focus has to be paid on the green recovery.