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Trade gap widens to $3.04bn

Updated November 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The merchandise trade deficit maintains its pace and posted a growth of nearly 36 per cent in October from a year ago, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

The trade deficit rose to $3.04 billion in October this year from $2.24bn over the corresponding month last year. It surged to $12.12bn between July and October from $9.24bn over the last year.

The surge in trade deficit poses a serious challenge to the balance of payment. However, the government has taken several measures, including raising regulatory duties and introducing several non-tariff measures, to curb flows of imports.

Secretary of Commerce Younus Dagha said the impact of tariff rationalisation measures would be visible from December when regulatory duties and regulatory measures would apply to imports. He said the import policy order clearly mentioned that new conditions were not applicable to imports whose LCs or BLs were issued before the date of issuance of the notification.

Mr Dagha said that regulatory duties also did not apply to goods in transit and, therefore, impact of the government’s measure would take some time to emerge.

In the year 2016-17, trade deficit was recorded at $32.58bn, showing year-on-year growth of 37pc.

The import recorded a growth of 23pc to $19.18bn in July-October from $15.65bn a year ago. On a monthly basis, import bill increased 23.6pc year-on-year to $4.92bn in October. It is claimed that the surge in import bill is driven by increase in imports of petroleum products, food products and capital goods.

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

Export proceeds showed a lower than expected growth of 7.9pc in October as export proceeds reached $1.89bn from $1.75bn last year. In four months, export proceeds recorded a growth of 10.04pc to $7.06bn as against $6.41bn over the corresponding period last year.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017