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Jun 26 - Jul 02, 2000

$1bn lost on import price upswing

The upswing in the international market in the import prices of wheat, petroleum products, crude petroleum and plastic material has caused a loss of $1bn to Pakistan during '99-2000 as to compared to last year ('98-99.)

Officials said, this year ('99-2000), Pakistan imported these four items at a cost of $2716.8m against $1674.5m during '98-99, thus a net loss of $1041.1m.

These sources told that, however, Pakistan gained $321m during the '99-2000 because of the fall in the import prices of items like soyabean oil, palm oil, synthetic fibres, medicinal products, iron and steel.

Finance division sources said, "had the unit value of the import of these items remained at the last year's level, imports of these items would have been lowered by $719.2m and the import growth would have been 1.4% instead of 10.9% as reported earlier".

Sources said, Pakistan's actual import of these items during '99-2000 were recorded at $3582.2m against $2863m, thus a gain of $321.9m. However, due to increase in value of unit price, the loss was calculated at $1041.1m. Giving details of financial losses due to increase in the import price of commodities at the international market, sources said, during '99-2000, Pakistan imported wheat worth $274.8m against $243.9m of last year, thus, a loss of $30.9m.

They said, plastic material worth $267.6m was imported against $228m of last year price, causing a loss of $39.6m.

Another loss occurred in the import of petroleum products as country imported $1526.1m during '99-2000 against $865.5m last year, thus a loss of $660.6m in a period of one year. The country also lost money on account of petroleum crude as its products worth $648.3m were imported during '99-2000 against $338.3m last year. Thus, loss of $310m.

Sources said, iron and steel products worth $248.9m were imported this year against last year's price of $321.6m, thus a gain of $72.7m.

Exporters to keep 5% proceeds

The State Bank has allowed the exporters to retain five per cent of their export earning in foreign exchange to carry out promotional publicity and market studies abroad, collection of commercial intelligence, purchase of designs or patterns.

An SBP circular issued on Tuesday said the exporters would not require prior approval of the State Bank to use the five per cent of their export earnings so retained. It asked all banks to ensure that the amount retained by the exporters are used for the specified purposes.

Before July 21, 1998 exporters were allowed to retain five per cent of their export proceeds but on that day the facility was discontinued after the country plunged into a foreign exchange crisis in the wake of nuclear blast. The circular has restored that very facility.

In practical terms the permission provides the exporters an opportunity to convert five per cent of the export proceeds at open market rate which currently hovers around Rs 54.50 to a dollar against Rs 52.10 in inter-bank market. This may provide some comfort to the exporters who say they are not getting fair conversion rates from banks because of a trading band imposed informally by the SBP.

Diesel prices increased

The prices of High Speed Diesel (HSD) and Light Diesel Oil (LDO) have been increased by 70 paisa and 55 paisa per liter respectively, with immediate effect.

According to new prices, High Speed Diesel will be sold at Rs13.50 per liter and Light Diesel Oil at Rs11.00 per liter. The old prices of HSD and LDO were Rs12.80 and Rs10.45 per liter respectively. However, "there is no change in the prices of all other products including MS (Regular and Super petrol), kerosene oil and furnace oil," said a press release issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural resources here on Saturday.

ECC okays wheat export

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) allowed the export of half a million tons of wheat. The decision was taken in view of the bumper wheat crop this year which is estimated to be in excess of 21 million tons and the export tenders will be floated shortly. The meeting directed all the concerned agencies to make arrangement to facilitate export on priority basis.

Car exports to Nepal, Bangladesh

Suzuki has exported 57 Ravi Pick-ups in 1998-99 to Nepal while Bangladesh has been added as a second destination, company's press release said here on Thursday.

According to the company's announcement, Pak Suzuki achieved a break-through in 1997 with the commencement of export of Ravi Pick-ups to Nepal.

It said the company made a modest beginning with export of 24 units in 1997-98. Pak-Suzuki maintained this thrust and achieved export of 57 Ravi Pick-ups in 1998-99. During this period Bangladesh was added as a second destination, it added.

International Mango Show

The 3-day International Mango Show' will be held from July 21 to 23, to introduce the delicious fruit of mango to the importers of foreign countries with an aim to boost its export.

Syed Zahid Hussain Gardezi, the president of Mango Growers Association said here on Wednesday that the mango show is being arranged by the EPB in collaboration with MGA.

IMF fixes tariff protection level

IMF has been communicated that Pakistan will continue to offer tariff protection to local industries until the approval of anti-dumping law the country has now placed with WTO for final approval.

Pakistan, however, has agreed with the IMF that the rate of regulatory duty for protecting the local industry should not cause the tariff to exceed the current benchmark rate of 35% on any item. The IMF wants that wherever indicated the central excise should be levied on local industry in case the maximum tariff rate is applied for protection.