President Musharraf calls for an early and ambitious result for the Doha Round

On the eve of 17th April 2007, the President of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, welcomed visiting Ministers and Ambassadors of the Cairns group and special guests that included the Director General of the WTO, Mr. Pascal Lamy, representatives from the United States, the European Commission, and Japan.

In his opening remarks, he labeled as apropos, the selection of the historic city of Lahore as a venue for such an important meeting. He commented on the history of Pakistan’s membership in the WTO, how today Pakistan has “truly embraced the spirit of trade liberalization” and the positive impact on the economy including the agricultural sector.

He commented on Pakistan’s economy which is growing at more than 15% per annum and that despite the reduction in revenue from tariffs, overall government revenue has been growing at almost 20% per annum.  He also cited the   revival of economy, increased support for pro-poor programs at an annual rate of over 25%, reduction of poverty from 36% to 24% and the lifting of  13 million of Pakistani’s out of poverty in the past 5 years as some of the benefits of liberalization. 

The President said despite these advances, a quarter of Pakistan’s population still lived in poverty hence Pakistan’s support for agricultural reform debate. Agriculture constitutes 24 % of Pakistan’s GDP, employs 42% of its work force yet its farmers are at a great disadvantage because of restricted market access and trade-distorting subsidies given by many developed countries.   He quoted as an example, the international liberalization of Cotton markets alone as being capable of lifting 1.9 million people out of poverty in Pakistan.

In the end, he commended the work of the Cairns group as a major contributor to the Doha round and agriculture trade reforms.  He also indicated that despite Pakistan’s being a new member to the group, it wished to help and support the work of the Cairns Group to formulate a strategy for the WTO negotiations and that the Lahore communiqué would be an important milestone in the history of the Cairns group and the WTO negotiations.