ISLAMABAD, March 8: Pakistan’s trade deficit swelled to record $8.890 billion during the first eight months (July-Feb) of the current fiscal as compared to $7.504 billion the same period last year, showing a jump of 18.47 per cent.

In February 2007, the trade deficit expanded by 30.05 per cent over February 2006 as exports dipped and imports grew at much higher rate, according to official figures released here on Thursday by Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS).

Export of goods rose marginally at a rate of 3.86 per cent to fetch a total $10.906 billion during July-Feb period as against $10.500 billion the same period the last year.

The government has set an export target of $18.6 billion for the current fiscal year. But keeping in view the slow pace the country is unlikely to realise $7.694 billion in export proceeds during the next four months to achieve the target.

Imports climbed by 9.95 per cent to $19.797 billion during the period as against $18.005 billion the same period last year, which had resulted in pushing the trade deficit further higher. The government has projected import bill of $28 billion for FY07.

In case the slowdown in export continues it will be very difficult for the country to beat or match the last year’s figure. As there is no surplus in non-traditional products, the exports also do not seem to grow at much faster pace in coming months.

Advisor to Finance Minister Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan told Dawn that though the trade gap had widened to a higher level but foreign inflows also recorded equally similar growth to bridge the gap.

He said that remittances and foreign direct investment alone had crossed the $6bn-mark in first seven months which would offset the impact of rising trade gap.

Mr Khan said that imports were growing at a normal rate of around nine per cent from the start of the current fiscal year, which according to him would not have serious impact on the balance of payment.

He was of the opinion that the size of the GDP would also increase during the current fiscal year so as percentage the trade gap would be lesser than the last year.

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