KARACHI: Pakistan’s trade deficit with China has further widened to $9.7 billion in FY18.

China, the largest trade partner of Pakistan, has further increased its exports to $11.458bn; an increase of $1.381bn compared to FY17.

However, exports to China increased by just $120 million to $1.744bn, creating a trade gap of $9.7bn which accounts for over 30 per cent of the overall trade deficit of the country.

The details of the State Bank of Pakistan’s latest report revealed that the trade gap with United Arab Emirates was the second largest at $7.493bn. Pakistan’s exports to Emirati kingdom rose by $314m to $1.378bn in FY18 but the imports went higher by $1.9bn to $8.871bn.

Singapore also stood out as a leading source of worsening trade balance with exports to the island nation worth $311m versus imports at $4.471bn, leading to $4.2bn deficit.

United States, on the other hand, remained an attractive destination for Pakistanis goods with exports amounting to $3.86bn as against $2.076bn imports – a surplus of $1.78bn. The US remained the largest importer for Pakistani items in FY18.

Pakistan also recorded a trade surplus of $766m with the UK, exported goods worth $1.76bn versus $1bn of imports.

Among the regional countries, Afghanistan remained the largest destination for Pakistani exports after China. Exports to Afghanistan increased by $343m to $1.47bn, creating a surplus of $1.32bn.

Imports from India went up to $1.8bn from $1.6bn in FY17 while exports slightly inched up by $10m to $418m, creating a trade deficit of $1.39bn.

A surplus of $625m was posted with Bangladesh, exporting goods worth $724m while importing at $65m.

Similarly, there was a positive trade balance of $272m with Sri Lanka as exports to the country reached $339m while imports stood at $67m.

A trade surplus of $730m was recorded with Spain as exports hit $939m while imports were $209m.

Despite a number of steps taken by the government to reduce the imports in FY18, the imports remained bullish with a total bill of $55.8bn, according to balance of payments reported by the State Bank.

However, the exports increased to $24.7bn in FY18 from $22bn in the previous fiscal year.

The huge traded deficit of about $37bn puts enormous pressure on external account of the country and has bitterly inflicted the exchange rate.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018