Government, private sector, other stakeholders reminded of WTO obligations

KARACHI (November 07 2002) : The Consultant to the Ministry of Commerce, Dr Tariq Banauri, has reminded the government, the private sector and other non-government stakeholders on trade policy of the WTO obligations regarding environment and sustainable development.

He said that the Doha declaration clauses 31, 32 and 33 had created certain obligations for the member countries to provide suggestions for arriving at consensus before the fifth ministerial meeting due to be held in September 2003.

The clauses relate to environmental content, representing both challenges and opportunities for Pakistan.

He was speaking at a workshop on trade, environment and sustainable development, organised jointly by the Ministry of Commerce (WTO wing) and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) at the Federation House here on Tuesday.<br>
The objective of organising the workshop was to ensure a meaningful and consistent dialogue between the government, the private sector and other non-government stakeholders on trade policy and Pakistan's WTO obligations.

Dr Banauri, who was a resource speaker of the workshop, gave his presentation, which focused on the subjects of globalisation, World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations, trade and environment, sustainable development, capacity building and Doha declaration's clauses 31, 32 and 33.

He is a renowned expert of international repute and has broad experience in sustainable development policy, particularly in the South Asia region.

He asked the participants to deviate from the conventional opposition to the agenda proposed by the developed block.

They should suggest their own agenda for making inroads in the agenda, proposed by the developed block, head, and identified the real poverty reduction as serving the end objects and targets for the country served by sustainable development.

The Chairman, FPCCI's Standing Committee on WTO and Legal Affairs, Engr. Comrade M.A. Jabbar, stressed the need for capacity building of the trade and industry so that they could prepare themselves to meet the challenges of globalisation and trade liberalisation.

He said that the interests of domestic industry should be protected by seeking necessary adjustments and finding escapes in the relevant clauses on the recommendation for future consideration in the WTO He was of the view that Pakistan industry committed itself to sustainable development, aimed at economic growth in harmony with the environment preservation and, at the same time, improving social conditions such as health and education.

Referring to the Doha declaration clauses 31, 32 and 33 related to environment, Engr. Jabbar said that these offered both challenges and opportunities for Pakistan.

He noted that in the WTO conference in Doha, there was a clear improvement in the awareness of the developing countries and in the capacity to deal with the situation.

He felt that the developing countries should consider attaining appropriate liberalisation rather than coming under pressure of attaining maximum liberalisation.

About the globalisation, he said that its foremost object should be to alleviate poverty from the developing countries, and quoted a statement of the United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, at the 32nd meeting of World Economic Forum in which he had stated that “business leaders of the world were not sharing enough to eradicate poverty.”

He informed the participants that around 1.5 billion of the world population was below poverty line and 10 percent elite controlled 80 percent of the world wealth.

The Deputy Secretary (WTO), Ministry of Commerce, Tahir Raza Naqvi, in his keynote address, apprised the participants about the initiative, taken by the government to implement a long-term capacity building programme on the WTO issues.

He said that the objective of the programme was to ensure a meaningful and constant dialogue between the government, private sector and other non-government stakeholders on trade policy and the WTO obligations of Pakistan.

He invited the private sector to take an active part in the programme by giving its valuable suggestions and input.

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