Trade with Pakistan at record high, Wells tells Congress

Updated June 14, 2019

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Alice G. Wells, Senior State Department Official for South and Central Asian Affairs. — AP/File
Alice G. Wells, Senior State Department Official for South and Central Asian Affairs. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has informed Congress that trade between the United States and Pakistan reached an all-time high in 2018, as Washington endorsed Islamabad’s budget re-emphasis on a relationship built on trade, not aid.

Alice G. Wells, Senior State Department Official for South and Central Asian Affairs underlined this change in a written statement to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation. On Thursday, the panel began a hearing on the State Department’s 2020 budget requests for the South and Central Asian regions.

Ms Wells informed the lawmakers that in 2018, US-Pakistan bilateral trade reached an all-time high, exceeding $6.6 billion.

US exports to Pakistan rose 4pc to $2.9bn, also an all-time high, and the trade deficit sunk to 2pct, or $782 million. “Trade in agriculture was a particularly bright spot,” she said. US soybean exports went from $0 in 2014 to $689 million in 2018.

She noted that Pakistan was a market of more than 200 million people, including a growing middle class, and that’s why it “provides ample opportunities for US trade and investment to grow further.”

According to the US Trade Representative’s office in Washington, Pakistan is currently America’s 56th largest trading partner during 2018. US exports totalled $2.9bn while imports from Pakistan totalled $3.7bn. The US goods trade deficit with Pakistan was $783 million in 2018.

The top US export categories in 2018 were: miscellaneous grain, seeds, fruits ($694m), cotton ($615m), iron and steel ($225m), machinery ($211m), and optical and medical instruments ($117m).

US exports of agricultural products to Pakistan totalled $1.5bn in 2018, making the country the 19th largest agricultural export market. Leading domestic export categories include: soybeans ($689m), cotton ($615m), tree nuts ($49m), dairy products ($38m), and planting seeds ($37m).

Pakistan was America’s 58th largest supplier of goods imports in 2018.

US total imports of agricultural products from Pakistan totalled $126m in 2018. Leading categories include: rice ($31m), sugars, sweeteners, beverage bases ($30m), spices ($19m), processed fruit & vegetables ($9m), and snack foods ($7m).

The top import categories in 2018 were: miscellaneous textile articles ($1.3bn), knit apparel ($809m), woven apparel ($586m), leather products ($121m), and cotton ($112m). US foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan (stock) was $518m in 2017, a 25.7pc increase from 2016.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019