ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to nine regional countries rose 16.97 per cent while imports grew by nearly 28.84pc in FY22 from a year ago, the 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 $4.590 billion — just 14.43pc of Pakistan’s total global exports of $31.79bn in FY22.

China tops the list of Pakistan’s regional exports leaving other populous countries India and Bangladesh behind. Islamabad carried out trade with its farther neighbours Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives via sea only.

On the other hand, imports from these countries edged up to $17.814bn in FY22 against $13.826bn over the corresponding period last year, an increase of 28.84pc.

Exports grew 17pc, but imports swelled close to $18 billion

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 2021-22. The bulk of the regional exports share, which accounts for 60.58pc, is with China while the remaining is for eight countries.

Pakistan’s exports to China posted growth of 36.12pc to $2.781bn in FY22 from $2.043bn in FY21. The increase in export proceeds was noted in the post-Covid period especially the exports of rice.

Contrary to this, imports from China grew 30.03pc to $17.296bn during the period under review against $13.301bn over the last year. The bulk of 97.09pc imports is coming from China alone while the remaining imports are from other eight countries.

Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan posted a negative growth of 43.8pc to $552.518m in FY22 from $983.314m in the same period in FY21. Till a few years ago, Afghanistan was the second major export destination for Pakistan after the United States. The export figures did not include proceeds that were materialised in the local currency.

Imports from Afghanistan posted a negative growth of 17.84pc to $147.249m against $179.223m 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 government has allowed maximum imports from Afghanistan in the rupee on a land route in the post-Taliban regime period. The figures did not reflect those imports made in rupees.

The country’s exports to India plunged 44.47pc to $1.292m this year from $2.327m in FY21. The imports from India slightly increased 2.11pc to $187.663m against $183.785m over the last year.

Pakistan’s exports to Iran on the official channel remained zero in FY22. 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 increased 41.28pc to $870.604m in FY22 from $616.202m. Imports from Dhaka grew 28.06pc to $97.500m this year against $76.134m over the last year.

Similarly, exports to Sri Lanka increased by 38.72pc to $373.412m in FY22 from $269.168m in the previous year. The imports from Sri Lanka dipped 3.96pc to $81.728m from $85.102m over the previous year.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to Nepal increased by 26.2pc to $5.775m in FY22 from $4.576m the previous year. However, imports rose by 12.62pc to $1.401m this year against $1.244m over the last year.

Exports to the Maldives increased by 14.29pc to $6.917m from $6.052m. Import jumped 1,314pc to $1.301m this year against $0.092m over the last year.

Export proceeds to Bhutan were recorded at $0.082m in FY22 against $0.159m over the last year, a decline of 48.42pc. The imports from Bhutan were noted at $2.499m in FY22 against $0.075m over the previous year, an increase of $2.424m or 3232pc.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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