ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s trade deficit with nine regional countries widened by 40.37 per cent to $8.411 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, up from $5.992 billion recorded in the same period last year.

The surge in the trade deficit can be attributed to increased imports from China and India during the period under review. Additionally, imports from other regional countries rose slightly compared to the previous year.

Exports to regional countries, primarily China, experienced growth during the review period. However, exports to other regional countries continued to decline, according to data compiled by the State Bank of Pakistan.

In absolute terms, the value of Pakistan’s exports to the nine regional countries — Afghanistan, China, Ban­g­ladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives — rose 20.58pc to $4.042bn in July-May 2023-24 from $3.352bn in the corresponding period last year.

Higher imports from China and India made major contribution

Contrary to this, imports surged 33.27pc to $12.453bn in 11MFY24 from $9.344bn over the corresponding period of last year. This shows a slight increase in trade deficit with maximum countries in FY24. Pakistan’s bulk of regional exports, over 60pc, go to China.

Exports to China increased 35.15pc to $2.553bn in July-May FY24 from $1.889bn. In FY23, the exports to China declined 27.3pc to $2.02bn from $2.78bn in FY22. It was the first decrease in the post-Covid period.

Imports from China also increased by 34.45pc to $12.148bn in 11MFY24 from $9.039bn in the corresponding months of last year. The bulk of imports in the region are also sourced from China, followed by India.

Pakistan’s imports from India increased by 8.98pc to $189.07 million in 11MFY24 compared to $173.49m in the same period last year. Exports to India stood at $3.550m this year compared to $0.273m during the same period the previous year.

Exports to Afghanistan increased 6.13pc to $507.94m in 11MFY24 from $478.62m last year. A very negligible export was made to Iran in 11MFY24. Most of the trade with Tehran is carried out through informal channels.

Exports to Bangladesh fell 14.57pc to $605.74m from $709.05m. Imports also dipped 27.94pc to $51.67m from $71.71m in 11MFY23. Exports to Sri Lanka surged 36.68pc to $361.69m in 11MFY24 from $264.61m over the last year. Imports from Sri Lanka rose by 21.08pc to $53.63m from $44.29m over the previous year.

Shipments to Nepal dipped 7.94pc to $2.55m in 11MFY24 from $2.77m over the last year. Shipments to the Maldives increased 8.93pc to $8.41m from $7.72m over the previous year.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

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