Pakistan’s Exports Fall for 6th Consecutive Month in February to Just $2.31 Billion

Pakistan’s exports continued their downward trend for the sixth consecutive month in February 2023, the exports during the month declined by 18.67 percent to $2.31 billion compared to the exports of $2.83 billion in February 2022, official data issued by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s trade deficit narrowed by 43.6 percent year-on-year (YoY) and stood at $1.704 billion in February 2023 compared to $2.631 billion in January 2022.

At $1.7 billion, this monthly trade deficit is the lowest after 31 months, according to Arif Habib Limited (AHL).

On a month-on-month (MoM) basis, the same metric shows a reduction of 35.2 percent from the $2.63 billion observed in January 2023.

During the first eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year 2022-23, the trade deficit shrunk by 33.2 percent YoY to $21.3 billion compared to $31.879 billion during the same period of last year, data released by PBS revealed on Wednesday.

The country’s exports in July-February (2022-23) were recorded at $18.793 billion against the exports of $20.573 billion in July-February of 2021-22, showing a decline of 8.65 percent, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said.

The imports decreased by 23.56 percent during the period under review going down from $52.452 billion last year to $40.039 billion during the current year.

The imports also decreased to $4.009 billion in February 2023 from $5.853 billion in February 2022, showing negative growth of 31.51per cent. The trade deficit narrowed by 43.56 percent on a YoY basis to $1.704 billion in February 2023 compared to $3.019 billion in February 2022.

On a month-on-month basis, the exports during February 2023 increased by 2.72 percent when compared to the exports of $2.244 billion in January 2022. The imports into the country decreased by 17.76 percent in February 2023 when compared to the imports of $4.875 billion in January 2022, according to the data.

Import/LCs issue

Import restrictions have been in place since June 2022 and since then, restrictions on letters of credit (LCs) have spread to all industries. Currently, SBP allows imports of only petroleum, wheat, cotton, pharmaceuticals, and defense-related items. Other industries, such as steel, plastics, and even packaging materials, have seen no new imports.

Many SMEs importers and traders have already gone out of business or might just do in the future if restrictions on trade aren’t eased. Pertinently, the decreased import bill has coincided with decreased exports and remittances as well.

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