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Declining exports

According to newspaper reports, the total exports of the country have further nosedived by 13.81 percent to $8.541 billion during the first five months, from July to November, of the current fiscal year. The total exports stood at $9.909 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal year. Experts hold the government responsible for the declining trends in exports as no official of the federal government or the Ministry of Trade and Commerce is ready to take responsibility of the situation. The finance minister is using his full energies to arrest the fast devaluation of the Pakistani rupee against dollars and running from pillar to post to hold negotiations with donor agencies to get more and more loans and the minister of commerce is busy in the local politics. The prime minister has his own busy schedule and exports seem to have the lowest place in the priority list of everyone who matters. The businessmen are waiting for a new trade policy, textile policy as well as an effective auto policy and they have to wait until the mandate of the present government ends in 2018.

On the export sector, Pakistan is lagging behind even Bangladesh and Vietnam. The country’s exports witnessed a decline of over 15.12 percent and stood at $1.662 billion in November 2015 compared to $1.958 billion in November 2014, said a report issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. The government though released some of the long-awaited sales tax refunds to exporters in November but only to sugar mills in Sindh and Punjab and it made the volume of exports slightly better. Some officials hold the energy shortage, especially in Punjab, responsible for decline in exports, but the most important issue is the apathy of the government to realize the problems faced by the business community. However, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and reports from world donor agencies still claim that Pakistan’s economy has been improving for the last few months as compared to the previous year. The World Bank and the government circles forecast 4.5 percent GDP growth in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.

Pakistan’s exports have been declining but it is a good omen that the government has managed to curtail trade deficit by 4.48 percent to $9.936 billion in July-Nov 2015-16 from $10.402 billion in the same period of the last year. In November 2015, trade deficit was 37.50 percent month-on-month due to drop in imports and exports. If the government concentrates on the export of value added goods rather than food items the better.

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