The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant challenges for the Government of Pakistan. However, the pandemic has also provided opportunities for the Government to enhance trading linkages in medical products, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region. With the onset of the pandemic, the demand for diagnostic test kits, ventilators, protective outfits and equipment, and disinfectants and sterilization products increased not only in Pakistan but across the world. In addition, greater demand for the services of health-care workers increased the scope for migrant workers to serve their country of origin. Finally, the role of digital technologies to increase the quality of health service delivery has become evident.
The report offers a comprehensive review of issues that have affected the effectiveness of Pakistan’s policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes an analysis of the trading patterns of health-related goods and professional services between Pakistan and its regional trading partners in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the role of tariffs and the non-tariff measures before the pandemic and of measures taken by the Government to meet the surging demand for medical products during the pandemic. It examines various government measures to alleviate the adverse impact of the pandemic, including the nationwide lockdown at the onset of the pandemic in Pakistan, and the handouts and economic relief programmes to affected citizens and businesses. The analysis concludes with a proposed action plan for policymakers.