Pakistan’s Medical Imports Surged 475% in First Half of FY22

The import of COVID vaccines and various relevant medicines to deal with the pandemic has put significant pressure on the country’s trade deficit.

Pakistan’s import bill of medicinal products swelled by 475% or 4.75 times to $3.1 billion, mainly due to the imports related to the COVID pandemic and raw material during the first half of the fiscal year 2022 compared to $539 million in the same period of FY21.

Currently, the Government of Pakistan has been importing vaccines, corona test kits, and other corona-related products from China, the USA, and other countries to deal with the pandemic. In addition, the country is also relying on donations of these products from different countries and international organizations.

An official from the Ministry of Commerce (MoCom), told ProPakistani that the import bill of medicinal products surged to $3.1 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year compared to $539 million during the same period of the last fiscal year.

The figures show that the pandemic put pressure not only on household income but also on forex reserves due to high imports of corona-related medicines and instruments, including ventilators and vaccines.

Economic expert, Dr. Waqar Ahmed, says that there are several reasons behind this increase. He said that the import of the covid 19 vaccine and booster has contributed to increasing the import bill, and it is expected to come down after March 2022.

While explaining the different reasons, he said that the Pharma industry uses imported raw materials for manufacturing its products to fulfill the growing demand for exports. He also said that Pakistan had to import medicine for Afghanistan during the last quarter. This pressure also will be decreased as soon as the international community takes this burden of Afghanistan’s medical requirement.

The import bill of medicinal products of the country surged to $975 million during December 2021 compared to $99.9 million in December 2020. It was recorded at $689 million in November 2021 during the Omicron variant outbreak in South Africa.

It is pertinent to mention that almost 35 percent population is fully vaccinated so far. According to the official figures, Pakistan administered 170.7 million doses of corona vaccines up to 23 January 2022, out of which, 78.8 million citizens are fully vaccinated while 102.97 people have had single doses so far.

Policymakers are also concerned that the pandemic is quickly growing, mainly due to Omicron cases. Pakistan accelerated the vaccination process besides the conduction of 50 thousand average daily corona tests.

However, during the past few days, the country has recorded the highest number of daily cases since February 2020.

This trend shows that there will be no relaxed moment in the near future for the Pakistani economy in terms of import bill of corona-related medicines and instruments until Pakistan takes a step towards manufacturing.



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