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June 25 - July 01, 2001

Oil import bill up by $600 million

Pakistan had to cough up an additional US$600 million over last year's oil spending as POL imports increased by 27.5 per cent during the first ten months (July-April) of the current fiscal.

According to Economic Survey 2000-01, total imports during the first ten months of the current fiscal increased by 6.1 per cent. "The largest component of this increase in imports is accounted for by the petroleum group (27.5 per cent)," the survey notes.

The government had to pay almost $600 million more on petroleum imports over the last year's level due to higher prices of POL imports. Despite the non-conducive international environment decline in commodity prices and higher POL prices, Pakistan succeeded in reducing the trade deficit by 1 per cent. Continued volatility of oil prices remained a concern for Pakistan as higher prices have kept Pakistan's balance of payment position under constant pressure. While Pakistan's oil import bill used to be on average 17 per cent of total imports, it has now increased to 31 per cent of the same.

These shocks have each impacted Pakistan's growth performance in varying degree during the outgoing fiscal year, the finance minister claimed. During July-March of this year, the production of crude oil per day has increased to 57,064 barrels from 56,141 barrels per day during the same period last year, showing an increase of 1.6 per cent.

The production of gas per day stood at 2,371 million cubic feet during nine months as compared to 2,217 million cubic feet over the same period last year, showing an increase of 6.9 per cent. The total production of gas however increased by 598,590 million cubic feet in July-March 1999-2000 to 650,727 million cubic feet this year.

Major policy changes in the gas sector included deregulation of gas prices by the government and keenness to promote conversion of petrol vehicles to CNG. More than 700 licenses for installation of CNG stations have been issued while 165 have already been established. Total installed capacity of WAPDA for electricity generation increased by 6 per cent during first ten months of the current fiscal and stood at 17,772 MW.

$1.37 billion surplus in non-oil trade

Pakistan's non-oil foreign trade recorded a surplus of $1.37 billion, during July 2000-April 2001, despite lower overall export receipts on account of falling international prices.

Sources said the trade surplus indicates more diversified export base and highlights the impact of international oil prices on import bill. Exports are far more impressive in terms of quantity increases than in dollar earnings. If the quantities of major exports had attracted the same per unit price as prevailing in fiscal 2000, says a research report of a foreign bank "the incremental increase in absolute terms" would have been to the tune of $1.06 billion in July-April 2001, over the same period previous year.

The quarterly "Economic Review" on Pakistan published by ABN-AMRO Bank points out that in fact each and every one of the country's ten top exports recorded positive growth in volume terms, ranging from 2.8 per cent (knitwear) to 38.2 per cent (synthetic textiles). Barring a nominal increase of 1.2 per cent in knitwear, the dollar unit price of each one of these items registered a decline.

Tobacco, cigarettes export up by 91%

A meeting of Export Promotion Committee (EPC) on tobacco and its manufacturing has expressed satisfaction over 91 per cent increase in annual earnings from export of tobacco and cigarettes during the current fiscal year.

The meeting was held here on Thursday with Chairman Pakistan Tobacco Board, Rustam Shah Mohmand in the chair, said a press release. The meeting was told that during the first 10 months of this fiscal year the tobacco export was stood at Rs359 million as compared to Rs187 million during the corresponding period of the last year, which shows an increase of 91 per cent.

The meeting also formulated recommendations for further promotion of export of tobacco and cigarettes. These included sending of tobacco delegation abroad, allowing rebates on export of tobacco, improvement of leaf quality, etc.

Dates export rises

Dates export has registered an increase of 18.21 per cent during July-March of the current fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period last year. A spokesman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) stated this on Wednesday.

This was stated by a spokesman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) on Wednesday. He said that the export of the commodity rose from 56,416 tons in July-March 1999-2000 to 66,900 tons in the period of July-March 2000-2001.

Anti-dumping duty

Pakistan is going to take up the issue of anti- dumping duty on bedlinen with European Union in the first week of the next month, official sources said on Thursday.

Pakistan's Economic Minister to Brussels, responsible for quota negotiations and other trade matters, is expected to hold a meeting with EU officials on July 2, 2001 when the commission would decide on a similar case concerning India. The European Union in 1997 imposed anti-dumping duty on imports of bedlinen from Pakistan and India.

Karachi Port operations

Berthing activity at the Karachi Port on Monday was fairly brisk as the KPT tried to clear the inward rush of foreign flag vessels including those whose arrivals were delayed. As a result, a record number of nine ships got berths, which also included container vessels, car carriers and oil tankers.