ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to nine regional countries posted a paltry growth of 8.57 per cent in the first month of 2022-23 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 $306.274 million — just 13.58pc of Pakistan’s total global exports of $2.254bn in July.

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.

Pakistan’s exports to China posted positive growth in July. The bulk of the regional exports share, which accounts for 56.83pc, is with China while the remaining is for eight countries.

Pakistan’s exports to China grew 4.99pc to $174.076m in July from $165.787m in IMFY22. The increase in export proceeds was noted in the post-Covid period especially the exports of rice.

Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan posted a negative growth of 17.75pc to $31.757m in July from $38.613m in July 2021. 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.

The exports to Afghanistan started to decline in August 2021. 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 government has also exempted the import of tomatoes and onions from duty and taxes. As a result, the import of these kitchen staples posted massive growth in the past few weeks to bridge the shortage in local supplies.

The country’s exports to India plunged 12.96pc to $0.047m in July this year from $0.054m in 1MFY22. In the wake of the monsoon rains, the standing crops of vegetables and cotton were vastly destroyed. There is a strong demand for allowing the import of cotton at the Wagah border and vegetables.

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. The government has allowed the import of onions and tomatoes at Taftan and Gwadar border customs stations to meet local demands.

Exports to Bangladesh increased 40pc to $71.507m in July from $51.033m in July 2021. Similarly, exports to Sri Lanka increased by 8.29pc to $28.146m in July from $25.991m in the same month last year.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to Nepal increased by 3.29pc to $0.282m in July from $0.2736m in 1MFY22. Exports to the Maldives increased by 41.2pc to $0.459m from $0.325m. No export to Bhutan was recorded in the first month of the current fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2022

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