ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports of non-textile products remained flat at $5.4 billion during July-January period despite double-digit growth in exports of eatables.

In January, vegetable exports increased 88.79pc year-on-year to $45.99 million; in quantity terms the sector’s exports increased by over 7pc, data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

Between July-Jan, vegetable exports went up by 50.39pc to $172.4m as against $114.6m over the corresponding months of last fiscal year. This higher demand and export of vegetables is mainly due to the record fall in the rupee’s value against dollar.

On Feb 19, the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) imposed a ban on exports of onion to control the rising trend of prices in the domestic market.

The rice exports grew by 15pc year-on-year to $1.21bn during the first seven months of current fiscal year.

The prices of all varieties of rice are also on an upward trend. The delay in decision to ban export of wheat and sugar has already disrupted the market supply which caused highest ever increase in its price in domestic market.

The rising exports of vegetables and other food group items have increased price pressures on these commodities in the local market. Furthermore, the prices of tomatoes and onions – the most common staples used in kitchens increased three-fold following a shortage in the first seven months of current fiscal year.

Fish, meat and vegetable exports were the other three major commodities which recorded impressive growth during the period under review. However, exports of sugar, fruits, wheat and spices posted negative growth.

The government had extended cash support to leather, footwear, sports goods, surgical, engineering, furniture, meat and meat products, fish products and cutlery manufacturers under various subsidy schemes in a bid to increase non-textile exports.

Subsequently, after a long gap, exports of leather products rebounded jumping 11.07pc during the period under the review. This was mainly led by sales of leather garments, gloves, followed by other products.

Foot-wear exports went up by 15.55pc on back of leather footwear and others, surgical goods and medical instruments by 8.64pc. And engineering goods went up by 2.6pc during the year under review.

Contrary to these, carpet and rug exports declined in value by 0.5pc but increased in quantity by 8.23pc during the period.

However, sports goods’ exports dipped 1.32pc whereas foreign sales of footballs were up by 11.78pc. Tanned leather exports witnessed a negative growth of 18.28pc in July-Jan from a year ago.

Data showed a year-on-year decline of 40.18pc in exports of petroleum products. The overall petroleum group — crude and naphtha contributed to overall decline in sector’s exports.

Year-on-year exports of gems surged 42.86pc. However, export of molasses dropped by 97.45pc, jewellery 17.27pc, while those of cement and furniture fell by 7.71pc and 13.11pc respectively.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2020