Import bill with Western Asia rises sharply

KARACHI, July 21: Pakistan’s import bill with Western Asia rose to alarming levels as it touched $15.706 billion in 2011-12, in which total exports amounted to only 23 per cent, State Bank of Pakistan said in a report.

The highest import bill was paid to the United Arab Emirates as Pakistan imported goods worth $6.426 billion, while it exported goods worth only $1.946 billion in the outgoing fiscal year.

This was followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as Pakistan imported goods amounting to $4.795 billion and $3.804 billion respectively during the year.

However, Pakistan’s total exports to the region, which also includes countries like Bahrain, Jordan, Turkey amongst others, were limited to just $3.725 billion.

The country is facing serious trade imbalances as its deficit widened 36 per cent to $21.27 billion in 2011-12, compared with $15.6 billion a year ago.

The report’s details showed that the trade imbalance was far more serious with friendly countries such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE and Kuwait, which was a cause for concern.

Pakistan’s neighbouring country, Afghanistan, proved to be the best trading partner in the region as Pakistan paid $13 million as import bill to Afghanistan in 2011-12, whereas Afghanistan paid Pakistan $1.382 billion.

Analysts are hopeful that Pakistan’s trade volume may improve after the full utilization of the Most Favoured Nation status with India.

However there are fears that it might fuel into the deficit as India is the largest producer of low cost products and would be marketing its products to Pakistan, a country with a population of 180 million.

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