ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s oil and food import bills have massively increased in first quarter (July to September) of current fiscal year, which is triggering trade deficit that may cause uneasiness on the external side for the government.  

The country’s food import bill had widened by 38.03 percent to $2.363 billion in July to September of the current fiscal year (FY22) from $1.712 billion over the corresponding period of the last year, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The government is importing food commodities to bridge the local shortage in the country. Within the food group import, the major contribution came from wheat, sugar, edible oil, spices, tea and pulses. Edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase in quantity, value and per value terms.

Import of palm oil grew by 53.91 percent in July-September period of the FY 22 to $891.2 million from $579 million over the corresponding months of last year. The palm oil import bill increased due to rise in international price of this commodity. The import of soya bean oil has dipped by 54.61 percent in first quarter of the FY 22. The government has spent $99 million on importing wheat.

The import of sugar cost $91.5 million in July-September FY 22 as against $13.2 million in last year, showing an increase of 593 percent. Despite imports the sugar price is steadily on rise, which in some markets are sold at retail level at above Rs110 per kg. Import of tea and spices grew by 6.46 percent and 40.09 percent, respectively, in July-September FY 22. The growth is mainly due to a drop in import of these products under transit trade and checks on smuggling in border areas.

The import bill of pulses, dried fruits, milk and other food products witnessed a massive growth in July.

Meanwhile, the country’s oil import bill witnessed massive increase of 97.28 percent in first quarter (July to September) of the current fiscal year. The oil import bill was recorded at $4.59 billion during July to September period of the year 2020-21 as compared to $2.33 billion in the corresponding period of the previous year, showing an increase of 97.28 percent. The commodities that contributed an increase of oil import bill included petroleum products, the imports of which enhanced by 93.21 percent from $1.126 million last year to $2.175 billion during the current fiscal year.

Likewise, the imports of petroleum cured increased from $692.7 million to $1.254 billion, an increase of 81.15 percent while the imports of natural gas (liquefied) went up by 144.2 percent, from $419.9 million to $1.024 billion. Similarly, the import of petroleum gas (liquefied) increased from $89.4 million to $137.6 million, showing growth of 53.95 percent.

Paki¬stan’s overall imports have gone up by 65.08 per cent to $18.63 billion in July to September period of FY 2020-21 from $11.29 billion in the same period of the previ¬ous year. Meanwhile, the coun¬try’s exports were recorded at $6.97 billion in July to Septem¬ber period of the year 2020-21 as compared to $5.47 billion in corresponding period of the previous year, showing growth of 27.32 percent. Therefore, the country’s trade imbalance was recorded at $11.66 billion in July to September period of the year 2020-21 as com¬pared to $5.81 billion in corresponding period of the previous year, showing massive growth of 100.62 percent, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).