Pakistan and India were part of that wave of economic liberalization among developing countries from the late 1980s. This paper is about one aspect of that failure to ‘produce the economic magic’, in Pakistan. Pakistan substantially liberalized its international trade after the late 1980s, and contrary to some views managed its exchange rate in an exceptionally clear sighted and prudent manner. In response, Pakistan never experienced sustained and rapid export led-growth. In fact so disappointing was the performance of exports that Pakistan’s degree of integration with the world economy was little higher in 2015 than it had been in 1990. This paper first examines the exciting promise followed by the lackluster performance of trade liberalization. It establishes evidence that the exchange rate was managed in a way that should have helped a more liberalized trading regime contribute to economic growth. The paper explores wider evidence linking trade liberalization to economic growth and argues that the positive relationship is at best only a contingent one. Those contingent factors that have failed to support the positive link between trade liberalization and economic growth in Pakistan are investment, tax revenue, and upgrading/learning.