The Battle over the EU's Proposed Humanitarian Trade Preferences for Pakistan: A Case Study in Multifaceted Protectionism

Authors Organisations
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-59
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of World Trade
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
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In the wake of devestating floods in Pakistan in 2010, the European Union (EU) has attempted to use trade policy to provide humanitarian assistance by the temporary lowering of tariffs on selected imports from Pakistan. This proposal justified on humanitarian grounds requires a World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver, which so far has not been possible, amidst developing countries concerns regarding erosion of the value of their preferential access to the EU market. A detailed examination of EU proposals indicates marginal benefits to Pakistan at best, given that sensitive import-competing products were largely excluded, suggesting that protectionist interests had a hand in shaping policy. The findings also suggest that trade policy might not be an effective means to provide humanitarian assistance.