ISLAMABAD: Merchandise exports maintained a bullish trend for the sixth consecutive month as shipments grew year-on-year by 17.54 per cent to $2.57 billion in February, indicating a recovery of export-led industrial growth.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Friday, the exports increased by 9pc to $20.35bn in the first eight months of FY24 from $18.67bn in the same period last year.

The trade deficit narrowed year-on-year by 1.95pc to $1.71bn in February. The overall trade deficit in eight months decreased by 30.18pc to $14.87bn as compared to $21.29 in the previous year.

The IMF’s first review of the $3bn Stand-by Arrangement projects Pakistan’s export proceeds over the next five years to be much less than the commerce ministry’s ambitious $100bn goal by the end of FY28.

Trade gap narrows 30pc in 8MFY24

The fund anticipates Pakistan’s exports will increase gradually from $30.84bn in FY24 to $32.35bn in FY25, $34.68bn in FY26, $37.25bn in FY27 and $39.46bn in FY28.

Caretaker Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz said in a statement Pakistan remains committed to implementing policies that promote export-oriented industries, diversify export markets, and attract foreign direct investment. These efforts are expected to further improve Pakistan’s trade balance in the coming months.

“Our exports are now diversifying as manufacturing and engineering exports grew 15pc and agriculture and food exports witnessed a robust expansion of 70pc,” Mr Ejaz commented.

He further said while this is a positive development, there is a need for continued vigilance. “We must maintain our focus on policies that boost competitiveness and streamline trade processes,” the minister further said.

He said these positive trends reflect the caretaker government’s commitment to promoting trade and economic growth.

The commerce ministry has yet to announce the strategic framework to provide regional competitive energy pricing, working capital support, speedy refund payments, enhanced market access, and diversification of products.

At the same time, imports also rose by 8.89pc to $4.28bn in February from $3.93bn in the same month last year. The import bill fell 11.87pc to $35.22bn in July-February FY24 from $39.96bn over the corresponding months last year.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

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