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February 12, 2019

Jang Group’s seminar ‘Pak Oil & Gas, Igniting Growth’: Pakistan seeks investment in oil and gas sector


February 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Trade deficit narrowed 9.66 percent to $19.264 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year of 2018/19 as exports continued to show upward trend, while imports declined, official data showed on Monday.

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed that trade deficit amounted to $21.324 billion in the July-January period of the last fiscal year. In July-January, exports rose 2.24 percent to $13.231 billion as trade incentives and tariff concessions couple with rupee depreciation encouraged export sector to increase shipments.

Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said exports would further pick up in the remaining five months of the current fiscal “owing to ongoing trade war between US and China and importers from US are expected to divert their purchase orders to Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan”.

“We expect to get our share in increased exports owing to ongoing trade war between US and China as Washington is all set to slap increased duties on Chinese products,” Dawood told media. “Our exports should be increased $4 to $5 billion.

The advisor, however, said exports sector performance is still not up to the mark. “But the (rupee) devaluation impact would start during the remaining few months of the current fiscal year”.

The new government announced tariff concessions on gas bills for the export-oriented sector to bring down cost of doing business. Businessmen, however, complained of outstanding tax refunds that created liquidity crunch for the industry.

Dawood said the government decided to take revenue hit in order to achieve export competitiveness. Businessmen witnessed massive interest during a recently-held exhibition in Germany, he added.

Imports, during the first seven months, decreased 5.17 percent to $32.495 billion as big ticket imports for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor slowed down due to the projects reaching maturity stage. Imports amounted to $34.265 billion during the corresponding period a year earlier.

Besides, cash-strapped government aggressively approached to discourage imports in the country. It extended the list of imported items that have been bearing regulatory duties since the previous government’s tenure.

In January, trade deficit sharply shrank 31.73 percent year-on-year to $2.461 billion. Exports, during the month, amounted to $2.043 billion compared with $1.965 billion in the corresponding month a year earlier, showing around four percent increase year-on-year. Imports were recorded at $4.504 billion in January 2019 as against $5.570 billion in the corresponding month a year ago, depicting a 19 percent decrease year-on-year.

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