Pakistan’s Look Africa Trade Policy Fails to Yield Desired Results

Pakistan’s Look Africa policy has so far failed to provide the desired results that the policymakers were expecting.

According to an official of the Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan’s exports to the countries in the African continent during the first half of the current fiscal year stood at $654 million, the figure was $96 million less than the same period of the previous fiscal year when the country’s exports to Africa stood at $750 million.

According to a report of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistani exporters exported products worth $1.17 billion during the fiscal year 2020-21, $210 million less than the exports in the fiscal year 2019-20. A few years back Pakistan had exported products worth $1.38 billion to African countries.

The total population of Africa is approximately 1.32 billion, accounting for 16.72 percent of the world’s population, inhabiting 54 countries. The growth rate of Africa in 2020 was 3.9 percent before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, parts of the African continent have been experiencing much faster growth rates.

The export figures show that instead of gaining new buyers, Pakistani exporters have lost market share in countries including Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan and Morocco.

Government officials expected that the country will gain a larger slice from African countries under the Look Africa policy but it has failed to deliver any results.  More worryingly, immediate measures are now needed only to maintain the previous level of exports.

Under the Look Africa policy, Pakistan had prioritized ten countries that include Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania, and Ethiopia for trade promotion in the future.

Pakistan’s exports to Nigeria declined to $72.6 million in 2020-21 from 96.5 million in 2019-20. Nigeria is a big market after South Africa in the continent. The exports to Kenya also declined to $175 million from $246 million. Similarly, exports to Senegal shrank to $26 million from $47 million. There was also a decline in exports to Morocco, with exports down to $23.9 million from $24.2 million, Ethiopia to $3.35 million from $4.11 million, Algeria to $11.42 million from $12.59 million and Tanzania to $48.5 million from $87.6 million during the period. The exports to Egypt fell marginally to $87.17 million from $87.71 million during the last two years.

However, the country’s exports to South Africa surged to $182.3 million from $160.7 million and exports to Sudan also increased to $15.17 million from $13.27 million.

These ten countries accounted for 78 percent of the total GDP of Africa in 2017-18 according to the policy.

“Rising economies like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Uganda and Kenya are expected to grow by more than 6 percent in 2020 and these economies are also expected to maintain their growth rate in the next five years as per the World Bank”, the Look Africa policy document says.

These economies also constitute some of the top rising economies in the world, according to the policy note.

The Ministry of Commerce had launched the Look Africa policy in August 2017.

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