ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to nine regional countries posted growth of 9.14 per cent while imports grew by nearly 36pc in FY21 from a year ago, latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan showed.
The country’s exports to Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives account for a small amount of $3.925 billion — just 14.21pc of Pakistan’s total global exports of $25.304bn in FY21.
China tops the list of countries in terms of Pakistan’s exports to its neighbours, leaving other populous countries India and Bangladesh behind. Pakistan carried out its border trade with the farther neighbour Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives via sea only.
On the other hand, imports from these countries edged up to $13.827bn in FY21 against $10.183bn over the corresponding period last year, an increase of 35.78pc. As a result of huge imports, Pakistan’s trade deficit with the region expanded during the period under review.
Pakistan’s exports to China posted positive growth in 2020-21. Bulk of the regional exports share, which accounts for 52.05pc, is with China while the remaining is for eight countries. Pakistan’s exports to China posted a growth of 22.85pc to $2.043bn in FY21 from $1.663bn in FY20. The increase in export proceeds was noted in the post-Covid period especially the exports of rice.
Contrary to this, imports from China grew 39pc to $13.302bn during the period under review against $9.568bn over the last year. The bulk of 96.2pc imports is coming from China alone while remaining imports are from other eight countries. Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan posted a growth of 10.47pc to $983.295m in FY21 from $890.052m in the same period in FY20. Till a few years ago, Afghanistan was the second major export destination for Pakistan after the United States.
Imports from Afghanistan posted a growth of 47pc to $179.228m against $121.832m over the last year mainly driven by higher arrivals of essential kitchen items including tomatoes, potatoes and onions as well as fresh and dried fruits.
The country’s exports to India plunged 89pc to $3.139m this year from $28.644m in FY20. The imports from India dipped 50.8pc to $183.785m against $373.561m over the last year. The government has suspended trade relations with New Delhi. Since the arrival of Covid-19 pandemic, the government has only allowed import of pharmaceutical products from India.
Pakistan’s exports to Iran jumped 181.8pc to $0.155m in FY21 from $0.055m in FY20. Most of the trade with Tehran is carried out through informal channels in border areas of Balochistan. No imports were made from Tehran during the period under review.
Exports to Bangladesh decreased 11.49pc to $615.212m in FY21 from $695.102m. Imports from Dhaka posted a growth of 56.22pc to $76.134m this year against $48.733m over the last year.
Similarly, exports to Sri Lanka dipped by 6.50pc to $270.320m in FY21 from $289.120m in the previous year. On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to Nepal plunged by 79pc to $4.551m in FY21 from $21.720m the previous year. However, imports posted a growth of 211pc to $1.244m this year against $0.400m over the last year.
Exports to Maldives dipped by 28.6pc to $6.052m from $8.478m. Import posted a growth of 384pc to $0.092m this year against $0.019m over the last year.
Export proceeds to Bhutan were recorded at $0.155m in FY21 against $0.094m over the last year. The imports from Bhutan were noted at $0.075m in FY21 against $0.097m over the previous year.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2021