KARACHI - The federal government has projected negative growth in imports in the current financial year, The Nation learnt on Tuesday. In 2008-09 Trade Policy, scheduled to be announced on July 19, the federal government had estimated a minimum of six per cent negative growth in imports mainly because of tight monetary policy and the government's strategy to trim non-essential imports with the aim to give support to the fast-eroding foreign exchange reserves, official sources said. In the coming Trade Policy the government would have to reduce imports to save the precious foreign exchange reserves, otherwise the fast-growing imports would again take away a sizable amount of foreign exchange in this fiscal, said sources. In 11 months of 2007-08 the imports have depicted 30 per cent growth and amounted to 36 billion dollars from July-May FY08 as against 28 billion dollars in the same period of FY07. Total imports during July-June FY08 are expected to settle close to 38 billion dollars and 6 per cent overall cut in imports means that imports bill in FY09 could squeeze by 2.28 billion dollars in this fiscal, said sources. In the new Trade Policy the trade imbalance is being projected around 13 billion dollars as against the expected trade deficit of over 20 billion dollars in FY08. Because in 11 months of the previous fiscal the trade imbalance had already expanded to 18.75 billion dollars (12.31 billion dollars in same period of preceding fiscal) and projection of little over 13 billion dollars deficit in FY08. The target of containing the trade deficit would be achieved only if the government put in place some concrete measures to make dent into the growing imports in the current fiscal, said sources, adding the deficit would again enlarge to an unsustainable level in 2008-09 if the imports growth remain intact like 2007-08, sources added. They, however, said that with the current foreign exchange reserves of 11.28 billion dollars the country could not afford unprecedented increase in the trade deficit and growth in this fiscal. The national foreign exchange reserves have dropped from historic high of 16.40 billion dollars in October 2007 to 11.28 billion dollars till last week because of an alarming increase in trade deficit and current account imbalance. In this financial year the efforts would have to be made to increase exports to above 12 per cent to reduce the deficit and to improve the current account balance, they added. Official sources are of the opinion the large trade deficit had not only consumed the total inflow of foreign exchange in FY08, but the country had also suffered 12 billion dollars current account deficit during July-May period of previous fiscal that means instead of receiving foreign exchange Pakistan had drained a hefty amount of foreign exchange.