Connect with us


The lopsided market structure of the automobile industry



Cars are supposed to go down in value. Here they are a fixed asset.

An automobile is supposed to be a depreciating asset.  An asset which is used and over time its value depreciates as wear and tear takes hold, and new technology results in better, and safer cars.  In Pakistan, it is the complete opposite.  A protectionist regime which has protected the incumbents for almost three decades now continues to manufacture cars which are not just expensive relative to other regional markets in US$ terms, but also of substandard quality, often skimping on technological advances available in similar models in other regional, and global markets.

In presence of a protectionist regime, competition from imported automobiles is discouraged through an excessive duties regime.  In absence of competition from imported automobiles, local manufacturers do not have the incentive to improve their product offering resulting in a welfare loss for consumers, as they continue to pay a higher price for substandard automobiles, relative to the choice set available in other markets.

Through an extended protectionist regime, and absence of any external competition, local manufacturers increase prices every few weeks, often pegging the prices with parity of PKR against major currencies.  Any depreciation in PKR results in increase of prices locally by a proportionate, or higher increase in prices. 

Furthermore, as demand often outstrips local supply, there is an extended wait time for delivery of automobiles, often stretching from six months to even one year in many cases.  In-effect, an automobile buyer will have to pay a certain percentage of the price in advance for booking, following with full payment.  Furthermore, any price increases during this period are also borne by the customer.  Such an erratic pricing and payment regime as well as waiting times extended to twelve months or more, automobiles have essentially become financial assets.

ALSO READ :  Kashmir Lockdown, UNGA & Thereafter

Many individuals even use automobiles as an asset class, given its strong correlation with value of PKR against major currencies.  A depreciating PKR eventually results in an increase in price of automobiles.  More importantly due to a long wait time, there exists a substantial premium for delivery of vehicles on spot.  A premium of 10 to 15 percent is fairly common on various models, if someone wants the automobile on spot, or with a much shorter waiting. 

Such market distortions have resulted in emergence of a class of investors who act as market makers, and pocket a sweet low-risk financial spread on automobiles bought and sold.  Creation of a shadow financial market has also been made possible due to increasing prevalence of cash in the economy, with most transactions being done outside the financial system, devoid of any potential capital gains taxes, or even income taxes.  A market distortion eventually having a ripple effect across the economy, from welfare loss to consumers, to creation of a shadow market.

There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief.  Jimi Hendrix uttered these words in his seminal work, all along the watchtower.  The way out of a protectionism regime is creation of a vibrant, and more open market.  Reducing duties on imports is one way to enable more competition, but an unintended consequence of increased automobile imports can be a deteriorating current account deficit situation given precarious state of our foreign exchange reserves.  However, any such incremental imports must be compared with imports of Completely Knocked Down (CKD) units, and other components.  

ALSO READ :  Fakhar Zaman's whirlwind 66 sets up Qalandars victory

It is estimated that roughly 60 to 70 percent of components of an automobile sold in Pakistan are imported.  In essence, we are importing a significant quantum of components regardless.  Restricting imports further disincentivizes local automobile manufacturers to increase local production of components and reduce the import component.  Increasing competition through reduction in duties and sticking with the policy rather than succumbing to pressure of the automobile lobby may actually benefit consumers in the long-run.  A tiered taxation structure where a lower tax is applied on automobiles with higher proportion of local components, thereby making the automobiles relatively more affordable can also be a policy action to steer the industry towards a more competitive market regime.

Policy actions need to focus on enhancing consumer welfare, rather than safeguarding producer surplus.  A protectionist regime rarely enhances consumer welfare and often results in creation of a market structure which even stunts growth of an industry when a global marketplace is considered.  Automobile industry is a classic example of the same where adverse incentives has created more problems than it has solved.  A gradual opening up of competition in the industry and ensuring policy continuity for the same would enable availability of better and affordable products for the local consumer.  In essence protection of infant industries shouldn’t be till perpetuity, the infant has got to grow someday.

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The lopsided market structure of the automobile...

Leave a Reply


Implications of Rising Fuel Prices in Pakistan




In order to truly comprehend the consequences of escalating fuel prices in Pakistan, it is imperative to grasp the role that fuel prices play within the country’s economy. A historical overview of fuel prices allows us to contextualize the current situation and highlight the need to study the implications of rising fuel prices.

Factors Driving the Surge in Fuel Prices

The surge in fuel prices in Pakistan is not isolated, but rather a reflection of global trends that impact fuel costs. Additionally, currency devaluation has had a profound effect on fuel prices, making it imperative to understand the connection between economic factors and fuel costs. Moreover, government policies and taxation on fuel contribute significantly to the fluctuation of prices.

Socio-Economic Impact of Fuel Price Hike

The increase in fuel prices has led to escalating transportation costs, which have a trickle-down effect on various aspects of society. The rise in consumer goods prices is one immediate impact experienced by common households, ultimately straining their household budgets. Industries and businesses also face challenges in the wake of fuel price hikes, and the manufacturing sector is particularly vulnerable. This scenario leads to job losses and causes economic uncertainty. Additionally, the agricultural sector is adversely affected as increased production costs put pressure on food security.

Environment and Energy Efficiency Considerations

Rising fuel prices can be viewed as an opportunity for Pakistan to explore renewable energy sources. Promoting such sustainable alternatives would not only help mitigate the impact of fuel price hikes but also improve overall energy efficiency. A balance between economic growth and environmental sustainability is crucial, necessitating the need for clean fuel alternatives. Moreover, reducing air pollution and the carbon footprint must be prioritized.

price of fuel on station
Photo by Erik Mclean on

Government Policies and Mitigation Strategies

Existing fuel subsidy programs need to be evaluated to determine their effectiveness and relevance in the current scenario. Regulatory bodies play a vital role in monitoring fuel pricing and should be actively involved in ensuring fair practices. Potential policy interventions and their effectiveness must be carefully considered to mitigate the adverse impacts of rising fuel prices.

Impact on Public Transport and Commuting Habits

Public transportation, its capacity, and affordability will be significantly affected by fuel price hikes. This, in turn, will lead to shifting commuting patterns and necessitate the exploration of alternative modes of transportation. Innovative solutions that aim to reduce fuel consumption are essential in adapting to these changes.

Implications for the Tourism Industry

The rising fuel costs will have a direct impact on the tourism industry, affecting both domestic and international tourists. Higher transportation costs negatively affect domestic tourism, and hospitality and travel services will face significant challenges. Embracing sustainable tourism practices can provide an effective response to rising fuel prices.

ALSO READ :  A Tribute to Late Li Keqiang: The Former Premier of China

Effect on International Trade and Exchange Rates

The surge in fuel prices poses challenges to trade deficits and the overall balance of payments. The import-export dynamics will be influenced by these rising costs. It becomes imperative to strengthen local industries to reduce fuel dependency and mitigate the impact on international trade.

Social and Political Ramifications

Public sentiment plays a crucial role in shaping political implications in light of rising fuel prices. Protests and social unrest can arise, demanding policy responsiveness from the government. Balancing economic development with public welfare becomes a priority for policymakers.

Implications for the Education Sector

The education sector is not immune to the consequences of rising fuel prices. Higher transportation costs directly affect students, and challenges arise with regard to education budget allocation. Leveraging technology, such as remote learning solutions, becomes pivotal in ensuring accessibility and continuity of education.

Health and Well-being Concerns

Rising fuel prices also have significant implications for health and well-being. The increase in healthcare costs directly impacts access to healthcare services. Additionally, air pollution resulting from fuel consumption poses detrimental health effects. Strategies need to be implemented to adapt healthcare systems to address these concerns effectively.

Infrastructure Development in Response to Price Hike

The surge in fuel prices emphasizes the need for efficient urban planning and transportation systems. Investing in intercity rail networks and promoting connectivity can contribute to reducing the dependency on fuel. Additionally, investing in alternative fuel infrastructure is crucial to address the price hike effectively.

Financial Implications and Economic Planning

The price hike in fuel directly affects inflation and interest rates, necessitating adjustments in monetary policies to mitigate the impact. Economic planning for long-term energy sustainability becomes essential to ensure stability and growth.

Impact on Rural Communities and Agriculture

Rural communities face unique challenges and constraints concerning access to affordable fuel. This impacts agricultural productivity and poses additional challenges for farmers. Empowering rural communities through energy solutions can alleviate their burden and promote agricultural sustainability.

Impact on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Rising fuel prices create a financial burden on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Exploring opportunities for alternative energies can help alleviate these challenges and ensure the resilience of SMEs. Government support and policy incentives are crucial in enabling such adaptation.


In conclusion, the implications of rising fuel prices in Pakistan are far-reaching and impact various sectors of the economy and society. Taking proactive measures towards sustainable development is of utmost importance to mitigate the adverse effects and ensure long-term stability and growth.


1: How do rising fuel prices affect common households in Pakistan?

Rising fuel prices have a significant impact on common households in Pakistan. Here are some of the ways it affects them:

  • Transportation Costs: As fuel prices rise, the cost of transportation increases. This, in turn, leads to higher fares for public transport and increased expenses for individuals who rely on personal vehicles for commuting.
  • Inflation: High fuel prices can trigger inflation across various sectors of the economy. Increased transportation costs can lead to higher prices for essential goods and services, making it more challenging for households to make ends meet.
  • Economic Stress: Households often need to allocate a larger portion of their budgets to cover fuel expenses. This leaves less disposable income for other essential needs, potentially causing financial stress for many families.
  • Impact on Businesses: Small businesses, in particular, are affected by rising fuel prices as they often rely on transportation for the distribution of goods. This can result in increased operational costs and, in some cases, reduced profitability.
ALSO READ :  LGs and welfare

2: Can renewable energy sources replace fossil fuels in Pakistan’s energy mix?

Yes, renewable energy sources have the potential to play a significant role in replacing fossil fuels in Pakistan’s energy mix. Here’s why:

  • Abundant Solar Resources: Pakistan has ample sunlight throughout the year, making it well-suited for solar energy generation. Solar panels and solar farms can harness this energy to produce electricity sustainably.
  • Wind Power Potential: Many regions in Pakistan have strong and consistent wind patterns, offering excellent prospects for wind energy generation. Wind farms can be established to harness this resource.
  • Hydropower: Pakistan also has significant hydropower potential, with several rivers and waterways suitable for hydroelectric power generation.
  • Environmental Benefits: Transitioning to renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions and combat air pollution, leading to a cleaner and healthier environment.

However, achieving a full replacement of fossil fuels with renewables will require substantial investments in infrastructure, technology, and policy support from the government and private sector.

3: What steps is the government taking to address the impact of fuel price hikes?

The government of Pakistan has implemented several measures to address the impact of fuel price hikes:

  • Subsidies: At times, the government may subsidize fuel prices to mitigate the immediate burden on consumers. These subsidies aim to keep fuel prices stable and affordable for households.
  • Diversification of Energy Sources: The government is working on diversifying the energy mix by investing in renewable energy sources, reducing the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
  • Fuel Price Regulation: The government periodically reviews and adjusts fuel prices based on international market trends. This helps in stabilizing prices and ensuring they align with global rates.
  • Energy Efficiency Programs: Initiatives to promote energy efficiency in various sectors, such as transportation and industry, can help reduce the overall demand for fuel, thereby alleviating the impact of price hikes.

4: How can individuals and businesses adapt to cope with rising fuel costs?

To cope with rising fuel costs, both individuals and businesses can take several measures:

  • Carpooling and Public Transport: Individuals can carpool or use public transportation to reduce their personal fuel consumption.
  • Invest in Fuel-Efficient Vehicles: Businesses can invest in fuel-efficient vehicles for their fleets, reducing overall fuel expenses.
  • Telecommuting: Businesses can encourage telecommuting or remote work options to minimize the need for employee commuting.
  • Energy Efficiency: Implement energy-efficient practices and technologies in homes and businesses to reduce overall energy consumption.
  • Explore Alternative Fuels: Businesses can explore alternative fuels like natural gas or electricity for their vehicles, where feasible.

5: Are there any long-term plans to reduce Pakistan’s dependency on imported fuel?

Yes, Pakistan has long-term plans to reduce its dependency on imported fuel:

  • Renewable Energy Projects: The government is actively promoting renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms, to increase domestic energy production.
  • Hydropower Expansion: Hydropower projects are being expanded to harness the country’s water resources for electricity generation.
  • Energy Efficiency Programs: Efforts are being made to improve energy efficiency in industries, transportation, and residential sectors to reduce overall energy demand.
  • Exploration of Domestic Resources: Pakistan is exploring its domestic oil and gas reserves to reduce reliance on imported fuels.
  • Policy Reforms: The government is enacting policy reforms to incentivize the use of alternative fuels and promote energy conservation.

These long-term initiatives aim to enhance energy security and reduce the country’s vulnerability to international fuel price fluctuations.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2019-2023 ,The Monitor . All Rights Reserved .