ISLAMABAD: The country’s oil import bill surged by 19.44 per cent year-on-year to $3.78 billion during the first quarter of this fiscal year, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
On the other hand, machinery imports decline by 17.88pc to $3.78bn during quarter. Barring agriculture products and textile group, almost all of the groups in the imports table posted negative growth.
The data for July-September suggest that the trade deficit, which has risen to alarming levels, might have already hit its peak since subsequent months have shown tepid growth.
Consequently, total import bill during the quarter went up slightly by 0.63pc to $14.25bn, from $14.16bn over the corresponding period last year.
Product-wise data show that the petroleum group imports saw a double digit growth of 19.44pc, reaching $3.78bn in July-September as against $3.16bn over the corresponding months last year, with the largest surge coming from crude oil, up 48.24pc.
The cost of petroleum products imports dipped 15.36pc during the first quarter of current fiscal year, whereas a 36.17pc decline was recorded in terms of the total quantity imported; bringing it down to 2.83m tonnes.
The import bill for liquefied natural gas (LNG) soared by 136pc during the period under review while that of liquefied petroleum gas plunged 17.08pc.
The data shows a changing trend in the imports, with machinery-related imports registering a marginal decline, and oil imports — including LNG — bill increasing in large part due to the rise in global oil prices.
For a number of years now, machinery imports have been a cause of major reason for the government since they have continuously fuelled trade deficit but since the past few months, the category has seen a decline in imports.
For July-September FY18, machinery imports fell by 17.88pc to $2.29bn, from $2.79bn last year. This was led by shrinking imports of textile and power-generating machinery at 22.38pc and 51.12pc, respectively.
However, mobile phones imports grew by 4.58pc while those of construction machinery declined 11.32pc.
Transport group, another important contributor to trade deficit, also receded during July-September as it posted a 16.93pc decline. The month saw a dip in imports of almost all transport items.
Food imports — the second-largest component contributing to the total import tally — shrank 10.31pc during the quarter under review.
Textile exports dip 5pc: The textile group exports posted a decline of 5pc year-on-year during September, according to the PBS data.
The decline comes despite government’s support in the form of cash subsidies, special export packages and ongoing rupee depreciation during the last few months. Barring the phenomenal growth of 7.33 in August, the textile group exports declined during the July-September quarter of 2018-19.
However, the textile continues to remain the leading contributor to country’s export portfolio. The group’s total proceeds in September clocked in at $1.02 billion making up for 59pc of country’s total exports during the month.
During the quarter under review, total textile group export proceeds increased by 0.86pc to $3.28bn against $3.25bn last year. However, the country’s total exports registered 4.56pc growth clocking in at $5.39bn during the quarter.
Exports of ready-made garments dipped 14pc, knitwear edged up 6.6pc, bed wear went up 7.74pc, towel exports declined 13.52pc, while that of cotton cloth increased by 1.61pc in value.
Among primary commodities, cotton yarn exports decline by 18.57pc, yarn other than cotton increased by 7.13pc whereas made-up articles – excluding towels – declined by 2.47pc, tents, canvas and tarpaulin increased by 10.7pc with proceeds from raw cotton dipping by 82pc during the period under review.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2018