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April 25, 2019

‘Trade deficit likely to shrink by $6 billion by end of current fiscal year’


April 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Trade deficit is likely to shrink by up to $6 billion by June 30, 2019 to $31 billion from $37 billion as the government with its prudent policies has already succeeded in reducing imports by $3.5 billion in the nine months of this fiscal year (2018/19), a government adviser said on Wednesday .

Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment said the government had jacked up duties on the import of finished goods, which led to a decrease in overall imports.

Responding to a question in the National Assembly, the adviser pointed out that country was facing a huge current account deficit and in order to reduce it the government was placing special focus on restrategising the import and export policies.

He said the exports of the country neither increased nor decreased during the previous months but would hopefully improve during the next two months.

The adviser said in order to curtail the imports of luxury items and non-essential goods regulatory duties have been imposed on the import of 570 items vide SRO 1265 (1)/2018 on October 16, 2018, which superseded the SRO 640 (1)/2018 dated May 24, 2018.

He said various steps like regulatory duties on nonessential items and luxury items and control on low quality products would further reduce the imports of nonessential items in the coming months.

Dawood further said the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement would be signed with China during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister, while Beijing had also shown eagerness to accord incentives to Pakistan like the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He said duty free access had been given on 313 products and such steps would

prove to be important for the growth of economy.

About the measures taken by the government to boost exports to Thailand, Dawood told the National Assembly that Pakistan was in negotiation with the southeast Asian country for a free trade agreement to get better market access.

So far, nine rounds of negotiations have been held with Thailand, he added. The adviser said a study was conducted to identify products, having the potential to successfully penetrate the Thai market.

It must be noted that seafood exports to Thailand increased from $81 million in 2016-17 to $107 million in 2017-18, recording a growth of 32 percent.

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