ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s oil and eatable import bill surged by 59.98 per cent to $21.87 billion in the July-March period compared to $13.67bn in the corresponding period last year owing to higher international prices and massive depreciation of the rupee.

The country’s overall import bill increased by 49.10pc to $58.87bn in 9MFY22 against $39.48bn in the corresponding period last year.

The share of these products in total import bill also rose to 37.14pc in 9MFY22. The steady increase in import bill of these two sectors are triggering trade deficit and pose a threat of exerting pressures on the external side of the government.

Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed that the import bill of oil increased by over 96.09pc to $14.81bn in 9MFY22 from $7.55bn over the corresponding months of last year. Also the unprecedented increase in prices of petroleum products for domestic users was seen during the period.

Overall import bill rose 49pc to $58.9bn in July-March

Further breakup showed that the import of petroleum products went up by 111.45pc in value and 20.05pc in quantity. Crude oil imports rose by 82.25pc in value and 3.50pc in quantity during the period under review while those of liquefied natural gas increased by 91.78pc in value. Liquefied petroleum gas imports jumped by 46.32pc in value in 9MFY22.

The food import bill rose by over 15.46pc to $7.06bn in 9MFY22 from $6.12bn over the corresponding period last year to bridge the gap in food production.

The rising food imports and the consequent trade deficit is yet another source of worry for the government. Pakistan spent over $8bn on the import of edible items in the last fiscal year.

The import bill will go up further in the coming months because the government has decided to import 0.6m tonnes of sugar and 4m tonnes of wheat to build strategic reserves.

Within the food group, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil imports witnessed a substantial increase in both quantity and value terms. Due to rising world prices, the palm oil import bill grew by 46.74pc in value in 9MFY22 to $2.73bn from $1.86bn in 9MFY21.

As a result, the domestic prices of vegetable ghee and cooking oil also went up. The import of soyabean oil increased by 113.7pc in value and 6.98pc in quantity in 9MFY22 from a year ago. However, the wheat imports fell by 38.91pc to 2.206m tonnes in 9MFY22 against 3.61 million tonnes in 9MFY21.

The import of sugar rose 11.24pc to 311,031 tonnes in 9MFY22 against 279,604 tonnes in 9MFY21. The import bill of pulses, tea, and spices also grew rapidly during the period under review.

Machinery arrivals rise

The machinery import bill increased by 21.75pc to $8.68bn in 9MFY22 against $7.12bn in the same period last year. The mobile phone imports were up by 3.93pc year-on-year to $1.59bn in 9MFY22. The arrival of apparatus of mobile phones posted growth of 39.45pc year-on-year to $540.19m.

The import of the transport sector posted a growth of 67.50pc to $3.36bn in 9MFY22 against $2.01bn over the same period last year. It was mainly led by massive imports of road motor vehicles (build unit, CKD/SKD).

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2022

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