ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s trade deficit with the Middle East narrowed 28.18 per cent to $9.521 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year from $13.257bn during the corresponding period last year, mainly due to reduced imports of petroleum products from the region.

The trade imbalance with the region has shrunk since the start of the current fiscal year due to the lower use of petroleum goods as prices have steadily increased.

In absolute terms, Pakistan’s exports to the Middle East rose 32.71pc to $2.276bn during July-March 2023-24, compared to $1.715bn in the corresponding period last year.

At the same time, imports dipped 21.2pc to $11.797bn in 9MFY24 against $14.972bn in the same period last year, according to data compiled by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Pakistan has recently signed a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to minimise its trade imbalance with the region.

Pakistan witnessed a 7.24pc decline in imports totalling $17.488bn in FY23, down from $18.853bn in the preceding

year. In FY23, exports to the Middle East shrank 12.62pc to $2.332bn from $2.669bn in the previous year.

Exports to Saudi Arabia rose 44.56pc in 9MFY24 to $516.34m from $357.17m in 9MFY23. At the same time, imports from Saudi Arabia declined by 2.63pc to $3.33bn in 9MFY24 against $3.42bn in the same period last year.

Exports to the UAE surged 37.28pc to $1.484bn in 9MFY24 from $1.081bn in 9MFY23, primarily due to a significant rise in exports to Dubai. The majority of these exports were directed towards Dubai, amounting to $1.229bn in 9MFY24, compared to $976.52m during the same period last year, indicating an increase of 51.96pc.

Imports from the UAE declined by 25.55pc to $4.533bn in 9MFY24, compared to $6.089bn in the corresponding period last year.

Exports to Kuwait rose 1.97pc to $97.31m in 9MFY24 from $95.43m over the corresponding months of last year. Imports from Kuwait declined by 35.68pc to $1.37bn during the period under review against $2.13bn over the corresponding period last year.

Pakistan’s exports to Qatar declined by 4.42pc to $125.82m from $131.65m during FY23. Imports from Qatar also declined by 19.49pc to $2.42bn this year compared to $3.006bn over the corresponding period last year.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2024

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