ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s regional exports have declined by a whopping 22 per cent in the first eight months of the ongoing financial year due to Covid-19 and its economic impacts.
Exports to China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan came down to $1.171 billion in the first eight months of the fiscal year, from $1.504bn in the previous year, as per the latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan.
The country’s trade deficit narrowed slightly during the period as imports from these countries also went down.
In 8MFY21, Pakistan’s exports to China fell by almost $1.160bn from $1.179bn in 8MFY20. This decline in the export proceeds was seen even though the Ministry of Commerce says to have brokered a market access for local products under shadow of the free trade agreement with Beijing.
In 8MFY21, exports to Afghanistan fell by 13.6pc to $629.324m from $728.315m in 8MFY20. Only a few years ago, Afghanistan was the second biggest export destination following the United States.
However, the imports from Afghanistan showed improvement especially of kitchen items — potatoes, onions, tomatoes and fresh and dry fruits.
Exports to India plunged 89pc this fiscal year from $19.738m in 8MFY20. In comparison with the whole FY20, exports to India fell by 90.8pc to $28.644m from $311.958m over FY19. It is worthy to mention that the government halted all trade ties with New Delhi last year in view of border skirmishes.
It has however allowed imports of raw materials for the purpose of preparation of pharmaceutical essentials. The government is also thinking of allowing import of cotton yarn via a land route from India to make up for the shortfall in local production. Through informal border channels, exports to Iran went up by 247pc to $0.191m in 8MFY21 which were at $0.055m in 8MFY20.