Trade deficit widens by 30pc during first quarter of FY 2017-18

Islamabad: In a further jolt to the economy, data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) revealed that the country’s trade deficit had widened by 30pc in the first quarter of financial year 2017-18.

It touched Rs9.09b during July and September, compared to $7b in same period last year (SPLY), reported a local newspaper. During September, trade deficit touched $2.8b rising 22pc from SPLY.

This news doesn’t bode well for the government, which is already facing several challenges on the fiscal and external fronts. Widening trade deficit will only add to the government woes during the current financial year.

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Pakistan’s trade deficit had touched an all-time high of $32.85b during FY 2016-17, recording annual growth of 37pc.

To rein in imports, Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had given go-ahead to imposition of regulatory duties and incentivize exports on all non-essential and luxury items.

Exports continued its resurgence which started from March 2017, registering rise of 10.84pc during July-September to touch $5.172b from $4.67b in SPLY. In September, exports registered a yearly increase of 8.9pc to touch $1.67b.

While imports have kept their upward trend, rising 22pc to touch $14.26b from $11.67b a year ago. September’s import bill reached $4.47b, registering a rise of 16.7pc year-on-year. This increase in imports has been attributed to the rise in arrival of petroleum goods, food products and capital goods.

“We have identified a list of items under the free trade agreement (FTAs), which will be subject to regulatory duties,” an official source in the commerce ministry said. Some of the items were already subject to regulatory duties in the last budget.



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