ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to the region in the first half of the current fiscal year declined 25.4 per cent from a year ago due to the impact of Covid-19.
Exports to Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives fell to $1.671 billion in the first half of FY21, from $2.240bn the previous year, according to the latest data compiled by the State Bank of Pakistan.
On the other hand, the country’s trade deficit with the region narrowed slightly during the period under review as imports from these countries also dipped.
Exports to Kabul fell 17pc to $450.243m in the 1HFY21 from $543.159m in the corresponding period of FY20. A few years ago, Afghanistan was the second major export destination after the United States.
Pakistan’s exports to China also dipped by 10.5pc to $837.912m in the first half from $936.858m in the corresponding period of last year. The decline in export proceeds was noted even though the Ministry of Commerce claims to have brokered preferential market access for local products under the second phase of the free trade agreement with Beijing.
The country’s exports to India plunged 88.86pc to $1.880m this year as against $16.878m over the last year. In FY20, exports to India plunged by a whopping 90.8pc to $28.644m in FY20, from $311.958m over FY19. The government suspended trade relations with New Delhi last year. But it has allowed imports of raw materials for pharmaceuticals.
The exports to Iran were recorded at $0.055m 1HFY21 as against $0.085m over the same period last year, a fall of 25.3pc. Most of the trade with Tehran is carried out through informal channels on border areas.
Exports to Bangladesh decreased 25.74pc to $274.246m in first half year of FY21 from $369.313m. Islamabad has recently reached out to Dhaka to revive talks to facilitate trade between the two countries.
Similarly, exports to Sri Lanka dipped by 34.1pc to $102.317m in FY21 from $155.424m in the previous year. Islamabad has signed the first-ever FTA with the country but trade between the two countries remains far behind its true potential.
On the other hand, export proceeds to Nepal plunged by 86pc as they reached $2.141m in first half of FY21, from $15.201m the previous year while those to Maldives dipped by 22.85pc to $2.539m from $3.291m. No export proceeds were recorded from Bhutan in the first half year.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2021