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Sep 10 - 16, 2001

Trade gap narrows by 18pc in July-Aug

The trade deficit during first two months (July-August) of the current fiscal year has gone down to $261 million against $322 million during the same period last year, showing a decline of about 18 per cent.

Provisional figures suggest that exports during the first two months have improved by 2.3 per cent and stood at $1.462 billion against

$1.458 billion the same period last year. Similarly, imports during first two months were $1.723 billion against $1.780 billion during the same period last year showing a negative growth of 3.2 per cent.

In August, total exports were $778 million against $798 million of the corresponding month last year showing a reduction of 1 per cent. Similarly, imports during August showed a fall of 13 per cent to $931 million against $979 million last year. In this way, trade deficit during August stood at $153 million against $190 million last year.

Last month, Pakistan's petroleum import bill declined by 14 per cent to $249 million. Although the reduction in petroleum import helped in containing trade deficit at $103 million in July, it had largest 32 per cent share in the total $786 million import bill of July this year.

Reduction in oil imports as attributed to lower international oil prices. The import of petroleum products during July this year stood at 683,000 tons against 939,000 tons same month last year, showing a decline of 37 per cent.

The import of crude oil on the other hand increased by almost an equivalent size of 35 per cent to 682,000 tons during July 2001 against 478,000 tons same month last year.

Against this situation, Pakistan was able to export 112,000 tons petroleum products worth $23 million.

The export bill was around 746 per cent higher than $2.6 million oil exports during the same month last year. Petroleum exports in July were also 37 per cent higher than $16 million during the previous month of June 2001.

WTO, trade ties on agenda

Commerce minister Abdul Razak Dawood left on Wednesday for Washington and Brussels to discuss multilateral and bilateral trade ties with the US and European Union especially WTO issues and textile.

Talking to newsmen prior to his departure at the Islamabad airport, the minister said that during his visit to Washington, he would discuss multilateral and bilateral issues relating to trade and WTO.

Dawood said similarly he would discuss bilateral and multilateral issues with the officials of the European Union.

He said later he would also visit Geneva where an internal meeting would be held at Pakistani mission there and discuss and adopt a strategy and look into the possibilities of Saarc and other developing countries position on WTO.

Import revenue down

The revenue receipts from import duty during the first month of this fiscal have amounted to Rs4.112 billion against Rs4.414 billion over the corresponding month of the last year showing a fall of 6.84 per cent.

The total import bill during the month of July 2001 has, however, increased from Rs 33.9 billion in the corresponding month of last year to Rs41.2 billion this year during the same period, registering an increase of 21.67 per cent.

Main hurdles in Pakistan, Nepal trade

Nepal has identified two main hurdles transit and certificate of origin in trade with Pakistan.

This message was conveyed to ambassador of Pakistan in Nepal, Fauzia Nasreen, by the officials of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) in a meeting held last month. They said the certificate of origin was the main issue in Pak-Nepal bilateral trade, and it had been hanging on for the last several years. They said that Pakistan government had agreed to accept certificate of origin for six months, but the Nepalese businessmen were seeking one year certificate of origin.

Imports from Germany down

With descending trend in imports by more than 40 per cent from Germany, balance of trade has tilted in favour of Pakistan during the last three years.

Pak exports have also recorded downward drifting during this period but the declining movement in exports is slower than that of in imports from Germany, informed sources told APP on Monday.

During 1999-2000 imports from Germany registered an increase of more than eight per cent while exports to Germany over the same period stagnated around the same level ($513 million).

Germany is another important trading partner of Pakistan in the European region, catering for more than six per cent of Pakistan's total exports and meeting more than five per cent of Pakistan's import needs.

Pakistan seeks 10pc hike in exports to Japan

Commerce minister Abdul Razak Dawood said on Monday that Pakistan wants to increase its exports to Japan by 10 per cent. He was talking to journalists after attending Pakistan-Japan Business Forum meeting at a local hotel.

He said: "For this year the government has set a growth target of 10 per cent increase in overall export and we will try to increase Pakistani exports to Japan by 10 per cent as well". He said Japan is the third major importer of Pakistani products.

Deletion plan

Auto vendors and assemblers have urged Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood to seek seven-year extension in deletion programme during his negotiations with the WTO.

In a letter to the minister on Wednesday, they expressed their resentment over two-year extension the government has sought from WTO. They have urged the commerce minister to submit a seven-year deletion programme to the WTO instead of two years.

Vendor industry, which has invested over Rs20 billion and provided over 100,000 jobs, is particularly concerned over the negotiations of commerce minister with WTO.