ISLAMABAD: The country’s oil import bill went up 3.8 per cent year-on-year to $10.6 billion during 9MFY19, from $10.22bn in same period last year, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The rise in imported value of the petroleum group was led by surge in liquefied natural gas, higher by 49.3pc and crude oil 15.19pc. On the other hand, cost of petroleum product dipped 15.33pc during the nine-month period, whereas a 33.9pc decline was recorded in terms of the quantity imported, bringing the total down to 7.57 million tonnes.
The overall import bill during July-March FY19 fell by 7.96pc year-on-year to $40.75bn, leading to a 13pc decline in trade deficit to reach $23.67bn.
Barring petroleum and agriculture groups, all other categories saw their value of imports shrink during the period under review.
Food imports contracted 9.92pc to $4.73bn during July-March 2018-19, from $4.26bn in corresponding months last year. This decline was largely due to a 10.22pc fall in the value of palm oil, which decreased to $1.39bn in 9MFY19, from $1.54bn.
Import bill of the machinery clocked in at $6.74bn during the nine months, lower by 20.54pc, from $8.48bn in same period last year. The biggest contributor to the decrease was power generating machinery, which plunged by 49.09pc, followed by 17.26pc contraction is electrical and 8.86pc in telecom.
Similarly, transport group — another major contributor to the trade deficit – also receded during July-March FY19 as it posted a 35.7pc decline, with decrease in imported value of almost all sub-categories.
On the other hand, agriculture imports inched up by 1.6pc to $6.58bn, from $6.47bn on the back of 16.49pc increase in fertiliser, 13.32pc insecticides and 7.31pc medicinal products.
Textile exports inch up
The textile and clothing export proceeds posted a paltry growth of 0.08pc year-on-year to $9.991bn during 9MFY19, as against $9.983bn in same period last year.
Product-wise details show that exports of ready-made garments went up by 2.02pc, knitwear 9.29pc, bedwear 2.69pc while those of towels declined 1.85pc and cotton cloth 2.09pc.
Among primary commodities, cotton yarn exports dipped by 15.44pc, yarn other than cotton by 3.23pc, raw cotton 71.84pc whereas made-up articles — excluding towels — increased by 1.26pc and tents, canvas and tarpaulin gained 3.49pc in value during the period under review.
The slow growth in textile and clothing exports comes despite government’s support in the form of cash subsidies, special export packages and multiple rupee depreciations during the last year.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2019