ISLAMABAD     -    Pakistan trade balance has improved by 19 percent, with trade deficit also declining from $ 37.6 billion to $30.6 billion in the last one year. The country’s exports remained stable at around $23 billion and exports were also protected from external shocks from regional geo-political uncertainty in the wake of Pulwama incident, depreciation of major currencies and trade war between two major markets United States and China, the one-year performance report shared by Establishment Division said. 

The exports sustained through policy interventions, extension of PM’s Export Enhancement Package for three years, relief to 5 major export sectors in energy prices, exchange rate rationalisation, and import tariff concession on 422 raw materials of export-oriented industries.

The country’s imports reduced from $60.8 billion to $ 53.8 billion by 12 percent saving of $7 billion.

According to the reports, regulatory duty imposed on non-essential imported items that include Sanitary and Phytosanitary restrictions imposed on imported food items, labelling conditions and mandatory halal certification imposed on imported edible products, Procedure for import of used cars reformed to check misuse of the import policy, Rationalisation of exchange rate discouraged imports by increasing price Commerce Division.

The government has also priorities the market excess in different potential markets of the world including China and Middle East.

In the second Phase of Pakistan China Free Trade Agreement (PCFTA-II) concluded in May, 2018. The Pakistan had got immediate market access on 313 items of prime export interest which cover over $8.7 billion of global exports and $64 billion worth of Chinese imports (approx. 90 percent). China allowed duty-free market access to Pakistani textiles and food items including yarn, sugar and rice worth $1 billion.

Pakistan had got unilateral market access from Indonesia on 20 products as appendage to Pakistan-Indonesia Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

According to the reports, as the result of Prime Minster Imran Khan’s visit to Qatar in January 2019, 8-year old ban on Pakistani Basmati rice was lifted in Qatar. Tender for procurement of 4,000 tons of Pakistani basmati rice was issued in July 2019. Pakistan has also obtained 500,000 MT of rice export order from Iran.

The government has also revived of technical level talks with South Korea for negotiation of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which had been stalled since 2017.

The government also provided relief to dates farmers by clearance of stuck-up inventories of dried dates, by export to nontraditional. The government has also initiated the legal and Policy reforms in Ministry of commerce for increasing the country’s exports.

National Tariff Policy also prepared as part of 100-day agenda to transform import tariffs from revenue generation tool to trade policy instrument, report added.  The import tariffs on 1635 raw materials removed in budget 2019-20.

Exporters provided liquidity relief by simplifying procedures for disbursement of sales tax refunds and claims under PM’s Export Package.

The country’s exporters insulated from the increase in gas and electricity prices despite price hike in international market.