ISLAMABAD: The country’s oil, food and transport import bill rose nearly 11 per cent year-on-year to $23.43 billion in the first nine months of FY18, owing to an increase in global prices of crude and grains.

The amount constitutes one third of the total merchandise imports for the period. The trade deficit is widening as the overall import bill of the country has been on the rise since the start of 2017-18.

Official figures released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that the petroleum imports increased 31.82pc to $10.22bn in the July-March period.

A 59.37pc growth was recorded in import of crude oil to $2.93bn but in terms of quantity, an increase of 64.34pc was posted to reach 7.75 million tonnes, indicating that a large share of the growth is on account of higher prices.

Imports of petroleum products went up 12.62pc to $5.45bn in the nine-month period. The category recorded a nearly 15.5pc growth in quantity 11.77m tonnes.

The import bill of liquefied natural gas surged 81.54pc to $1.6bn while that of petroleum gas liquefied went higher by 22.37pc to $220.09m.

Food commodities accounted for the second-largest share in the bill, witnessing a 4.5pc rise in imports to stand at $4.73bn. The increase is mainly due to massive buying of palm oil, registering a 11.55pc growth to $1.54bn in value and 9.72pc in terms of quantity to 2.11m tonnes.

The second-biggest product in the food category was tea, which went up by 9.65pc to $450.93m. However, a 5.19pc decline was recorded in terms of quantity. The import of ‘other’ food items grew by 18.75pc to $1.79bn.

The import of milk products rose by 6.32pc to $197.77m while that of soyabean oil surged by 52.56pc to $110.56m and spices 19.55pc to $122.05m.

On the other hand, the import of pulses dropped by 43.55pc to $407.92m.

The transport was the third biggest contributor to the import bill which went up 41.85pc to $3.24bn from $2.28bn, led by road motor vehicles increasing by 18.66pc to $2.14bn as against $1.81bn last year.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018

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