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KARACHI: Large-scale manufacturing (LSM) grew 3.48 per cent year-on-year in July-January, much below the target of 5.9pc set for the current fiscal year.

The growth stood at 4.5pc during the same period of the preceding fiscal year. Most of the important segments of LSM showed negative growth or poor performance, a State Bank of Pakistan report said on Friday,

The textile sector, despite receiving bank loans worth Rs90 billion last year, showed a marginal growth of 0.29pc during the seven-month period compared to 0.92pc a year ago.

Production of coke and petroleum products, which rose 4.85pc in the first seven months of the previous fiscal year, posted a growth of 0.67pc.

However, the pharmaceutical industry maintained the growth size as it noted an increase of 7.57pc compared to 7.3pc in the same period last year. Chemicals production fell 2.13pc compared to a growth of 11.63pc.

The automobile sector’s growth came down to 6.91pc from 31.28pc a year earlier. The growth in cars and jeeps noted a negative growth of 1.9pc in July-January 2016-17 compared to a positive growth of 43pc a year ago.

Similarly, motorcycles’ production grew 20pc, buses 26pc, trucks 54pc and tractors 79pc.

Food, beverages and tobacco, the second-largest sector after textiles in the list of LSM, posted a growth of 4.79pc compared to 1.84pc in the same period of the last fiscal year. The highest growth in this sector was witnessed in sugar whose production rose 22pc. Another strong growth was seen in soft drinks which recorded a growth of 18.5pc.

Despite the closure of Pakistan Steel Mills, the largest producer of iron and steel products, the growth in this sector was 17.5pc during the period under review compared to a decline of 8.4pc a year earlier.

The demand for iron and steel products are high due to higher construction activities including infrastructure development under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Fertilisers’ production could hardly grow by 1.18pc compared to 14.69pc in the same period of last fiscal year. Leather products noted a negative growth of 17pc compared to a positive growth of 11pc. The leather industry has been facing serious challenges from goods smuggled from China which are cheaper and easily available across the country.

Non-metallic products (mostly cement) showed a positive growth of 7.78pc compared to 8pc a year earlier.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2017