FPCCI new leadership should work on trade diplomacy



KARACHI, DEC 26 –  Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Standing Committee on Agriculture, Former Chairman Ahmad Jawad said trade diplomacy is a only of hope to increase exports. “In the preview of current scenario of the region , now it is equally expected that the new regime of the FPCCI should work for trade diplomacy and make a supportive role for the country foreign office too”.

Jawad said Pakistan’s best bet for exports in the next five years is trade diplomacy, in the following ways. seek FTA with UK after post Brexit (and negotiate long-term trade arrangement with the USA including on board the officials of US Chamber of Commerce too ; negotiate a favourable free-trade agreement with Turkey and African markets and improve regional connectivity, in particular with Afghanistan and Iran.

As Economic and Trade diplomacy is a diverse practice and an evolving subject which generally involves three kinds of negotiations — trade, investment and development cooperation. The meaning, forms and ways of economic diplomacy vary from nation to nation, depending on their levels of economic development. At the same time, each country is redefining its economic value proposition in the rapidly changing dynamics of economic gravity towards a multipolar setting that tilts towards Asia. The dynamics of globalisation and emerging regional markets have challenged traditional diplomatic practices by forcing countries to increase their sphere of influence through engaging with a wide range of partners.

He stated a example that even after ten years after getting approval for zero rating duty under the generalised system of preferences and investing high hopes in the US market, Pakistani mangoes are failing to make any impact. Exporters have not been able to access a major market which spends well over $0.5bn on imports.

Similarly Pakistan Foreign Office needs to review incentive structures to send its best envoys to countries with a promise to engage on economic terms. Major investment will be required to groom the skills of diplomats specialising in economic diplomacy. At the institutional level, there are too many cooks dealing with investors; this needs to be urgently streamlined. Several countries have merged the functions of trade ministries with foreign missions where ambassadors have been given clear targets regarding the delivery of commercial deals.

It is time Pakistan resets its trade policy and enters into bilateral agreements rather than seeking unilateral concessions, which give it no leverage. Such unilateral concessions, as the EU has currently extended to Pakistan, make us a client state dependent on largesse of the partner. This kind of trading arrangement gives the other partner all the leverage and none whatsoever to us.

Pakistan also needs to reset its diplomacy and look at issues through economic rather than security prism. We should find allies who would stand by us. Hopefully, the Economic Outreach Apex Committee would be able to move the country in that direction and FPCCI 2021 team must also jumps in it on behalf of the private sector.