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Trade deficit widens to $35.4 billion in July-March

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A representational image of containers. — Reuters/File
A representational image of containers. — Reuters/File
  • Analysts believe chances are that the trade deficit will expand further.
  • “The two biggest items contributing to the rise in imports cost are oil, LNG,” an analyst says.
  • A 24.67% growth recorded in exports and a 48.63% increase in imports, PBS reports.

ISLAMABAD: The trade gap peaked to a new nine months record , widening to a massive 70.14% to $35.393 billion in July-March due to rising energy import costs, The News reported.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), during the first nine months of the current fiscal year 2021-22, imports surged to $58.691 while exports remained at $23.298 billion.

In the same period last fiscal, imports stood at $39.489 billion and exports at $18.687 billion. This depicts a 24.67% growth in exports and a 48.63% increase in imports.

Analysts believe chances are that the trade deficit will expand further.

“The two biggest items contributing to the rise in imports cost were oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG),” an analyst said.

Read more: IMF to continue providing support to Pakistan after ‘new govt is formed’

The recent increase in crude oil prices beyond $110 per barrel and simultaneous revival of domestic demand pose headwinds to trade balance as import bill will likely remain elevated.

Meanwhile, the exports increased by 15.91% during March 2022 as compared to the exports of the same month of last year.

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The exports during March 2022 were recorded at $2.740 billion against the exports of $2.364 billion in March 2021.

The imports increased to $6.186 billion in March 2022 from $5.631 billion in March 2021, showing a growth of 9.86%.

Former commerce adviser Abdul Razzak Dawood earlier said the country’s exports “are in line with the targets and will meet the yearly target”. The country’s exporters are maintaining exports momentum under these testing times prevailing in the global market, he said.

Read more: Economy will bear brunt of constitutional crisis, say analysts

On a month-on-month basis, the exports from the country witnessed negative growth of 2.84% during March 2022 as compared to the

exports of $2.820 billion recorded during February 2022.

On the other hand, the imports into the country during March 2022 witnessed an increase of 4.72% as compared to the imports of $5.907 billion in February 2022.

Muzzammil Aslam, a former spokesperson to the Finance Minister said in a tweet that “a wonderful news despite the higher oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal prices, import bill still well managed for the month of March at $6.19 billion”.

Aslam said exports first time making history to cross $31 billion.

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The trade deficit reached an all-time high of $37.7 billion in FY18. However, the government’s measures led to a drop in it to $31.8 billion in FY19 and $23.183 billion in FY20.

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