ISLAMABAD: The exports of merchandise rose year-on-year by 10.02 per cent in April after a slowdown in growth in the previous month, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.

Export proceeds incre­ased by double-digits since December before slowing in March. However, the exports shrank 9pc month-on-month. In absolute terms, exports reached $2.35 billion in April from $2.14 billion in the corresponding month last year.

They reached $25.28bn during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year from $23.17bn over the corresponding period last year, indicating an increase of 9.10pc.

The trade deficit incre­ased by 180.58pc year-on-year to $2.37 billion in April, up from $846 million in the same month last year. This was due to a rebound in import growth, while exports remained stagnant at roughly $2.3bn.

Trade deficit widens 181pc in April

However, the trade gap narrowed by 17.09pc to $19.52bn in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year compared to $23.54bn in the same period last 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 target of $100bn by the end of FY28.

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

During the caretaker government’s time, exp­ort earnings increased due to several actions, including releasing maximum sales tax refunds to exporters.

The FBR paid Rs369bn during the first nine months of the current fiscal year as compared to Rs254bn issued in the same period last year.

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

At the same time, imports rose by 58.43pc to $4.72bn in April 2024 from $2.98bn in April 2023.

The import bill has rapidly increased in recent months following the government’s relaxation of restrictions.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

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