Food import bill up 22pc in fiscal year’s first month

Published August 27, 2021
Staff members arrange food items at a utility store in this file photo.  — Dawn
Staff members arrange food items at a utility store in this file photo. — Dawn

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s food import bill grew by 22.24 per cent to $647.036 million in July compared to $529.311m of the first month of last financial year, according to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Thursday.

The continuing food import bill is triggering trade deficit that may cause uneasiness on the external side for the government.

Pakistan spent over $8 billion on import of edible items in the last financial year.

In the 2021-22 budget, the government has proposed several measures, including allocation of billions of rupees for increasing per acre yield, reducing wastage and establishing big stores for keeping staple food items.

The total import bill inched up by 52.46pc to $5.601bn in July as against $3.673bn over the corresponding month of last year.

Total import bill goes up to $5.601bn, enlarging trade gap

Sugar, wheat, palm oil and pulses are the main items procured from abroad to meet demand at home.

The import bill of all food items posted a growth in value and quantity in July this year, indicating a shortage in domestic production. Within the food group import, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase in quantity, value and per value terms.

Import of palm oil grew by 23.35pc in value in July to $254.02m from $205.935m over the corresponding months of last year. In quantity, 35pc negative growth was recorded in import of palm oil during the same period. The palm oil import bill increased due to rise in international price of this commodity.

As a result, the prices of vegetable ghee and cooking oil went up during the last few months for domestic users. The import of soya bean oil dipped by 25.53pc in value and 58.78pc in quantity.

Pakistan imported 3.612m tonnes of wheat worth $983.326m in nine months of last financial year as against no imports in the previous year. Since April 2021, wheat has not been imported. The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet has decided to import 3m tonnes of wheat for keeping buffer stock.

The import of sugar stood at 33,620 tonnes in July as against a meager quantity during the same month of last year.

Import of tea and spices grew by 7.72pc and 13.81pc, respectively, in July. The growth is mainly due to a drop in import of these products under transit trade and check on smuggling in border areas.

The import bill of pulses, dried fruits, milk and other food products witnessed a massive growth in July.

The machinery import bill increased by 29.97pc to $881.783m in July against $678.430m over the same month last year. Import of power generating machinery went up by 8.10pc in the month under review mainly due to CPEC-related projects.

The mobile phones import dipped by 10.41pc in July from the same month a year ago. The decline was noted for the first time in import of mobile phones as well as its machinery.

The oil import bill rose to $1.330bn in July, indicating an increase of 76.79pc from $752.461m over the same month of previous year. The import of petroleum products went up by 66.99pc in value and declined by 7.70pc in quantity.

Crude oil import rose by 85.16pc in value and 8.22pc in quantity during the month under review while those of liquefied natural gas increased by 111pc in value. The liquefied petroleum gas impo­­rts jumped by 4.9pc in value in July.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2021

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