close
Friday June 21, 2024

Exports rise 7.99pc to $2.555bn in March, marking seventh month of growth

By Israr Khan
April 02, 2024
A Naval personnel stands guard beside a ship carrying containers during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar port. — AFP/File
A Naval personnel stands guard beside a ship carrying containers during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar port. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s merchandise exports have risen for a seventh consecutive month in March, albeit at a slightly more moderate pace, pointing to a continued recovery in the country’s struggling economy.

Exports increased by 7.99 percent to $2.555 billion in March 2024 from $2.366 billion in the same month of the previous year, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Monday. This showcases a significant improvement over the consistent declines witnessed for almost a year up to September 2023. Since that month (Sept), it has shown an upward trend.

However, March’s figures did show a slight dip of 1.08 percent from February 2024’s $2.58 billion. This seven-month positive trend started in September with a 1.6 percent increase, followed by a 12.84 percent jump in October, 7.7 percent in November, and 22.64 percent in December 2023. Continuing the upward trend, in January 2024, it was up by 24.72 percent, February by 18 percent, and now in March, year on year, it increased by 7.99 percent.

The imports during March 2024 increased by 25.86 percent to $4.726 billion from $3.755 billion in March 2023. Over the previous month (Feb 2024) with imports of 4.326 billion, goods purchased from outside the country during March 2024 increased by 9.25 percent.

The trade deficit increased by 56.3 percent to $2.17 billion in March 2024 from $1.389 billion in March 2023. Compared to February 2024's deficit of $1.74 billion, the gap increased by 24.56 percent.

Interestingly, in the first nine months from July to March 2023-24, exports totaled $22.9 billion, marking an 8.9 percent increase over the same period in the last fiscal year ($21.04 billion).

In contrast, imports during July-March 2023/24 fell by 8.65 percent to $39.94 billion compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year ($43.72 billion).

Consequently, the trade deficit in July-March 2023-24 shrank by 24.94 percent to $17 billion from $22.69 billion in the corresponding period of FY23.

Notably, in the last FY23, Pakistan's trade deficit decreased by 43 percent to $27.55 billion from $48.35 billion in FY22. Total exports dipped by 12.7 percent to $27.7 billion, while imports contracted by 31 percent to $55.3 billion.

Trade in Services

In July-February 2023-24, data indicates that the trade deficit in services experienced a significant surge, rising by 554.7 percent to $1.89 billion compared to the $289 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2022-23.

During this period, Pakistan's expenditure on services acquired from foreign sources totaled $6.97 billion, whereas its service offerings amounted to $5.1 billion. In contrast, the same period in the previous year witnessed service exports at $5.15 billion and imports at $5.44 billion. Over these nine months, exports decreased by 1.37 percent, while imports increased by 28.2 percent.

For February 2024, services exports reached $627 million, with imports standing at $785 million, resulting in a deficit of $158 million. In January 2024, exports amounted to $682 million, imports to $1.013 billion, and a deficit of $331 million. During this month, services exports fell by 8.05 percent and imports declined by 22.5 percent compared to the previous month.

A comparison of February 2024's services trade performance with the same month of the previous year reveals an increase of 6.11 percent in exports and an increase of 22.14 percent in imports. In February 2023, services exports were $591 million, and imports were $643 million.