ISLAMABAD - Exports slumped by around 4 percent during first five months (July-November) of the ongoing financial year (FY2016-17) amid delay in announcement of an incentives package for boosting country's exports.

Country exported goods worth $8.2 billion during July-November period of the FY2016-17 as against $8.5 billion of the corresponding period of the previous year, according to the fresh data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Exports are continuously declining since the incumbent government took charge in June 2013, falling from $24.5 billion in fiscal 2012-13 to $20.8 billion during previous financial year 2015-16.

The government had earlier granted zero-rated status on sales tax to five export sectors which was appreciated by the exporters' community. However, still, exports are not increasing. The industry is suffering due to the ‘overvaluing’ of Pak rupee versus the US dollar and higher wages from the last couple of years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its report had noted that rupee is significantly overvalued compared to the US dollar, and requires depreciation to remain competitive in international markets.

The Ministry of Commerce had prepared an incentives package to boost country's tumbling exports. The package for five or six export-oriented sectors would be around Rs100 billion to Rs150b. "We had completed our work and sent the package to the ministry of finance and Prime Minister office," said an official of the Commerce Ministry.

He said that main top beneficiary of the package would be textile sector. The government is likely to announce 3 percent rebate to yarn/grey fabric, 4 percent to processed fabrics, 6 percent for home textile/knitwear and 8 percent for garments sector. Similarly, proposed rebate for raw and semi-raw exports would likely be around 4 per cent and value-added sectors 8 percent, respectively. Removal of Regulatory Duty (RD) on key export-oriented industrial inputs including raw material is also on the card. Removal of import duty and sales tax on industrial machinery is also on the cards.

On the other hand, the country's imports recorded an increase of 8.83 percent during July-November period of the FY2017. Pakistan imported goods worth $19.96 billion during the five months of the ongoing financial year as compared to $18.35 billion of the same period of the last year. Therefore, trade deficit widened by 19.9 percent during July-November period of the ongoing financial year. Country's trade imbalance was recorded at $11.78 billion in the period under review as against $9.8 billion of the corresponding period of the last year, according to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

According to the PBS figures, exports increased by 6.2 percent to $1.76 billion in November 2016 from $1.66 billion in the same month of the last year. Meanwhile, the imports went up by 10.81 percent to $4.26 billion in November 2016 from $3.8 billion in November 2015. Therefore, trade deficit was registered at $2.49 billion during November 2016 as against $2.18 billion in the corresponding month of the last year, showing an increase of 14.31 percent.