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Pakistan registers 15% growth in exports

The Gulf Today | January 12, 2018
 The Islamic Chamber of Commerce , Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA)

Pakistani exports grew nearly 15 per cent year-on-year in December 2017, raising hopes about a revival in the overseas sales of Pakistani goods.

The upward trend in exports will contribute towards bridging the deficit in current account, which is under pressure because of rising oil prices and growing imports of other fuels and machinery.

In absolute terms, exports edged up to $1.97 billion in December from $1.72 billion a year ago, data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

In the first half of the current fiscal year, export proceeds recorded an annual growth of 11.24 per cent to $11 billion.

Commerce Secretary Younus Dagha said exports have been increasing since last June. They increased 12.3 per cent and 14.8 per centin November and December, respectively.

He said the premier’s export package, realistic exchange rate and growing international demand will help maintain the growth momentum.

Imports recorded an increase of 19.1 per cent to $28.97 billion in July-December. They grew 10.1pc year-on-year to $4.91bn in December.

Dagha said the upward trend in imports, as witnessed throughout 2017, also slowed down in December.

The increase in imports, which was 37pc in January and July, came down to 10 per cent in December.

This is despite the fact that crude oil prices went up from $47 per barrel in July to $67 per barrel in December, showing an increase of 43 per cent, he said.

Excluding fuel imports, which registered an increase of almost 30pc, the rest of imports have shown only 1 per cent rise, the secretary said.

Rising oil prices

He said imports of non-oil and non-essential consumer goods are expected to remain under control due to import rationalisation initiatives. However, rising oil prices and higher machinery imports remain a challenge for the balance of trade, he added.

Imports of mobile phones and apparatuses also witnessed tremendous growth during the period under review.

The merchandise trade deficit swelled nearly 25 per cent to $17.96 billion in the first six months of this fiscal year. It rose 7.12 per cent year-on-year in December to $2.94 billion.

The last fiscal year saw the trade deficit rise to an all-time high of $32.58 billion, representing year-on-year growth of 37 per cent. The country’s annual trade deficit was $20.44 billion in 2013. It has been continuously on the rise since then.

Higher cotton production by Sindh and Punjab provinces helped Pakistan improve its overall output by 7.16 per cent year-on-year up to Dec 31, according to the latest figures issued by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association on Thursday.

Yet the production level remained lower than the official revised estimate of 12.6 million bales. The country produced 11.11m bales against 10.36m bales in the corresponding period of the last season.

The government initially estimated that cotton production would be 14.1m bales because of the higher acreage of land coming under cultivation. But the cotton crop faced a lot of issues as the season progressed.