Eatables, energy import bill surges to $24.77bn

Published May 15, 2022
A SUPERMARKET aisle with local and imported fruit and vegetables. The country’s rising food import bill, which crossed over $8 billion in the last fiscal year, is pushing the trade deficit up.—Dawn/File
A SUPERMARKET aisle with local and imported fruit and vegetables. The country’s rising food import bill, which crossed over $8 billion in the last fiscal year, is pushing the trade deficit up.—Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s oil and eatable import bill surged by 58.98 per cent to $24.77 billion in the July-April period compared to $15.58bn in the corresponding period last year owing to higher international prices and a massive depreciation of the rupee.

The country’s overall import bill increased by 46.51pc to $65.53bn in 10MFY22 compared to $44.73bn in the corresponding period last year.

The share of these products in the total import bill also rose to 37.79pc in 10MFY22. The steady increase in these two sectors’ import bills is causing a trade deficit and putting pressure on the government’s external side.

Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed that the import bill of oil increased by over 95.84pc to $17.03bn in 10MFY22 from $8.69bn over the corresponding months of last year. Also, an unprecedented increase in the prices of petroleum products for domestic users was seen during the period.

Palm oil arrivals surge 44.64pc in July-April

Further breakup showed that the import of petroleum products went up by 121.15pc in value and 24.17pc in quantity. Crude oil imports rose by 75.34pc in value and 1.36pc in quantity during the period under review, while those of liquefied natural gas increased by 82.90pc in value. The value of liquefied petroleum gas imports increased by 39.86pc in 10MFY22.

To close the food production gap, the food import bill increased by more than 12.30pc to $7.74bn in 10MFY22 from $6.89bn in the same period last year.

The rising food imports and the consequent trade deficit are 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 contributions 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 44.64pc in value in 10MFY22 to $3.09bn from $2.14bn in 10MFY21.

As a result, the domestic prices of vegetable ghee and cooking oil also went up. The import of soybean oil increased by 101.96pc in value and 9.30pc in quantity in 10MFY22 from a year ago. Wheat imports, on the other hand, fell 19.12pc to 2.206 million tonnes in 10MFY22, from 3.61m tonnes in 10MFY21.

No wheat was imported in the month of April.

Sugar imports increased by 49.52pc to 311,851 tonnes in 10MFY22, compared to 280,377 tonnes in 10MFY21. 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 20.49pc to $9.55bn in 10MFY22, up from $7.92bn in the same period last year. Mobile phone imports increased 7.43pc year on year to $1.81bn in 10MFY22. Year on year, the arrival of mobile phone apparatus increased by 39.87pc to $603.54m.

Imports into the transport sector increased by 60.04pc to $3.73bn in 10MFY22, up from $2.33bn in the same period the previous year. It was mainly driven by massive imports of road motor vehicles (build unit, CKD/SKD).

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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