Pakistan’s trade deficit widened by over 4 percent during first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year over a year ago.

Country’s trade deficit, gap between exports and imports, was recorded at $13.6 billion during July-January of FY2016 as against $13 billion of same period of the last financial year, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The trade imbalance has widened as country’s exports are tumbling fast as compared to the imports.

Pakistan’s exports are continuously declining from last several months. The country’s exports came down to $12.1 billion during July-January of FY2016 from $14.1 billion of the corresponding period of last year, showing decline of 14.37 percent in one year period.

According to the PBS data, the country’s imports reduced by 5.38 percent mainly due to huge decline in oil and food prices in international market. Pakistan imported commodities worth $25.7 billion during first seven months of the ongoing financial year as against $27.2 billion of previous year.

According to the PBS data, exports decreased by 13.9 percent in the month of January 2016 as country exported goods worth $1.77 billion as against $2.06 billion of January 2015. However, the imports went up by 15.34 percent to $3.51 billion in January 2016 from $3.04 billion of January 2015. Therefore, trade imbalance was registered at $1.74 billion in January 2016 as against $983 million of the January last year, showing an increase of 76.7 percent.

The PML-N government had failed to introduce much delayed strategic trade policy framework, which could devise a strategy to enhance exports and curtail imports. The previous policy had expired on June 2015. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already rejected the draft of STFP and directed the Ministry of Commerce to formulate new policy that should include measures designed to give a quantum jump to declining exports. Commerce Ministry remained tight lipped regarding STPF’s announcement date.

“Exports have continued to decline reflecting lower commodity prices, weakening external demand, ongoing energy shortages, security and business climate challenges, and the significant appreciation of the real effective exchange rate,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in its latest report on Pakistan. Pakistan lags behind most of its regional peers in terms of growth and level of exports. The country’s exports are highly concentrated, with textile and clothing accounting for about a half of total exports of goods. Moreover, Pakistan’s world market shares, both for these products and across the full spectrum of exported goods, have been either stagnant or declining in recent years, the report added.

Remittances rise 6pc

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Overseas Pakistani workers remitted $11198.18 million in the first seven months (July to January) of FY16, showing a growth of 6 percent compared with $10565.9 million received during the same period in the preceding year.

During January 2016, the inflow of remittances amounted to $1462.87 million, which is 10.64% lower than December 2015 and 4.21% higher than January 2015.

The country wise details for the month of January 2016 showed that inflows from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) and EU countries amounted to $462.18 million, $313.32 million, $179.56 million, $172.53 million, $190.38 million and $28.64 million respectively compared with the inflow of $4\52.81 million, $289.79 million, $197.39 million, $178.4 million, $162.31 million and $25.85 million respectively in January 2015.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during January 2016 amounted to $116.26 million together as against $97.19 million received in January 2015.