Pak trade deficit worsens to $15.1 billion

Pakistan's trade deficit worsened to USD 15.1 billion in the first eight months of the ongoing fiscal year, despite steep decline in global crude oil prices and duty-free status of its exports to the European markets.

PTI| Last Updated: Mar 12, 2016, 17:06 PM IST
Pak trade deficit worsens to $15.1 billion

Islamabad: Pakistan's trade deficit worsened to USD 15.1 billion in the first eight months of the ongoing fiscal year, despite steep decline in global crude oil prices and duty-free status of its exports to the European markets.

The trade bulletin yesterday released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported the value of imports was more than double the value of exports for the second month in a row.

The Express Tribune reported that the trade deficit; gap between exports and imports; widened 4.22 percent to USD 15.1 billion from July to February.

The trade deficit was USD 612 million higher than reported in the comparative period of the last fiscal year.

It almost nullified the USD 728 million gains Pakistan made due to increase in workers' remittances during July to February.

The PBS would release the details of imports and exports for July-February later.

However, the seven-month data showed that the country got a bonanza of USD 2.9 billion due to reduction in global crude oil prices.

Despite the huge benefit, the trade deficit ballooned due to massive decline in exports.

Pakistan is also availing the 'Generalised System of Preference' (GSP) Plus scheme from the EU that allows it to export a range of products at virtually zero duty to the bloc of 27 nations.

But the textile exports during the first seven months plunged by over 9 percent to USD 7.4 billion.

From July through February, the exports nosedived to USD 13.87 billion, which were USD 2.12 billion or 13.3 percent less than the receipts in the comparative period of the last fiscal year, the PBS reported.

A major reason behind the steep fall in exports was the absence of an enabling business environment, as the government has massively increased the cost of doing business by levying numerous indirect taxes.

The government has so far failed to announce a "three-year strategic trade policy framework" after the last one expired in June 2015.

The imports during July-February period contracted almost 5 percent to USD 29 billion.

The imports were USD 1.5 billion less than the comparative period.

On annualised basis, the trade deficit also widened by 6.7 percent to USD 1.5 billion in February.

It was USD 95 million higher than the one posted in February last year, according to the PBS.