Pakistan Taps MTI For Strategic Impact Study Of WTO’s ITA

Pak Ministry Of Commerce Roped In MTI Consulting To Concretely Assess Prospect Of Joining Information Technology Agreement (ITA).

Pakistan’s Ministry Of Commerce Has Roped In MTI Consulting To Concretely Assess The Prospect Of Joining The World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA). ITA was signed into existence in 1996 – a year after the World Trade Organization (WTO) was formed – as the organisation’s first and most significant tariff liberalisation document. The agreement waives import tariffs on IT products worldwide – worth over $1.5 trillion in today’s market.

Pakistan never signed the ITA – weary of losing out on billions in tax revenue from imported computers, telecom equipment, semiconductor equipment, software and several others products. That said, market trends have combined to put ITA on the government radar recently, and MTI Consulting’s job is to help reach a decision by weighing out the pros and cons of signing on.

Funding the study is USAID – a global development agency that is helping Pakistan assert itself on the global trade landscape through the $14 million Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Project. The initiative was launched in 2015, and IT has been pegged as a key driver of future growth.

Enticed by a vibrant entrepreneurial environment, Pakistan hopes to become a key hub in global IT value chains, and ITA appears to be the means to this end. A 2017 study from Washington-based think tank Information Technology & Innovation Foundation revealed that a decade in the ITA could boost Pakistan’s GDP by more than 1% – a circa $5 billion increase. Helping things along, the ITA was revised in 2015 to include more product categories – inviting signatures from another 53 countries. Any participation in global IT trade flows will likely necessitate ITA membership as a result, pushing Pakistan to reconsider its 25-year resistance of the agreement.

Government officials have been deliberating the move for years, and MTI Consulting is tasked with objectively informing the decision through a strategic impact study. The Asian-focused boutique management consultancy is specialised in strategic planning, and has previously helped Pakistan’s Trade Development Authority develop a national export strategy. The latest project builds on this collaboration, and draws on the firm’s experience on nearly 700 projects across over 30 countries worldwide.

This news was originally published at Consultancy Asia.

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