ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s exports to nine regional countries dipped 28.28 per cent in the first nine months of FY23 mainly driven by a drop in shipments to China, data compiled by the State Bank of Pakistan showed.
The decline is not confined to exports but imports especially from China also saw a deep decline during the current fiscal year. As part of government austerity measures, import containers are awaiting clearance and the opening of letters of credit for consumer goods is the least priority of the State Bank of Pakistan.
The country’s exports to Afghanistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives dipped to $2.744 billion — just 13.83pc of Pakistan’s total exports of $21.05bn in July-March FY23.
China tops the list of Pakistan’s regional exports leaving other populous countries India and Bangladesh behind. But Pakistan’s exports to China posted negative growth in the first 9MFY23 on a year-on-year basis. The bulk of the regional exports share, which accounts for 55pc, is with China while the remaining is for eight countries.
Pakistan’s exports to China declined 28.31pc to $1.524 in July-March FY23 from $2.126bn in 9MFY22. The decrease in export proceeds was noted for the first time in the post-Covid period. However, the imports from China also declined by 48.36pc to $7.745bn on a year-on-year basis during the months under review.
Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan posted a positive growth of 8.42pc to $400.77m in July-March from $369.63m in July-March 2022. 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 materialised through the land routes.
The exports to Afghanistan started to decline in August 2021. The government has allowed imports and exports from Afghanistan in the rupee 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 from Afghanistan and Iran. As a result, the imports of these kitchen staples posted massive growth in the past months to bridge the shortage in local supplies.
Pakistan’s exports to Iran on the official channel remained at $0.027m in the first 9MFY23 against no exports last year. 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. Pakistan carried out barter trade with Iran.
The country’s exports to India declined 78.83pc to $0.221m in 9MFY23 from $1.006m in 9MFY22. In the wake of high prices of vegetables in the domestic market because the standing crops of vegetables and cotton were vastly destroyed. There is a strong demand for allowing the import of cotton as well as vegetables at the Wagah border.
Exports to Bangladesh decreased 9.24pc to $588.29m in 9MFY23 from $648.21m in 9MFY22. And Exports to Sri Lanka dipped by 21.75pc to $222.85m from $284.82m in the same period last year.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s exports to Nepal declined by 53.84pc to $2.250m from $4.792m in 9MFY22. Exports to the Maldives increased by 21.84pc to $6.185m from $5.076m. A marginal export worth $0.048m to Bhutan was recorded in the first nine months of the current fiscal year against $0.025m exports last year, indicating a growth of 92pc.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2023