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TRADE

Dec 10 - 16, 2001

Five-month trade deficit at $434m

Amid strong indications that exports would remain $1.5-2 billion short of annual target, Pakistan's trade deficit has reached $434 million during first five months (July-November) of the current fiscal year against an annual target of $900 million.

Provisional trade figures available suggest that total exports during five months (July-November) this year have amounted to $3.735 billion compared with $3.724 billion recorded in the same period last year, showing an improvement of 0.29 per cent.

Similarly, five months' imports have amounted to $4.169 billion compared with $4.641 billion during the first five months of last year, posting a negative growth of around 10 per cent.

Initial analysis of the trade figures of first five months suggest that although the trade deficit was within the annual target parameters, exports target of $10.1 billion would not be achievable in the existing circumstances. Similarly, the import target of $11 billion is estimated to remain short of target by $1 billion.

According to Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), exports during the first month of November 2001 amounted to $709.966 million compared with $753.940 million achieved in the year-ago period, showing a decline of 5.8 per cent.

Imports in November stood at $826.587 million, down from $930.347 million recorded a year earlier, an 11 per cent decrease. In this way, monthly trade deficit in November amounted to $116.6 million against $176 million trade deficit of November last year.

The shortfall in exports would have direct impact on the overall economy, particularly the revenue target that has already been slashed to Rs430 million against budgeted target of Rs457 billion.

On the imports front, decline has apparently two main reasons. Slowdown in industrial growth and sluggish economic activity as a result of post-September 11 events and decline in petroleum imports, both in terms of quantity and value, again due to slow industrial and commercial activity and decline in international oil prices.

Iran to purchase 45,000 tons rice

Iran has agreed to procure 45,000 tons of rice from Pakistan. This was disclosed by the visiting Iranian minister for agriculture and plant protection in a meeting chaired by Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood on Thursday.

Understanding to buy Pakistani rice was reached during a meeting between Iranian foreign minister and President General Pervez Musharraf when the former visited Pakistan in Nov.

Gasoline valued at $36m exported

Pakistan exported 170,000 tons of 90 RON lead-free gasoline worth $36 million to Middle East and Europe since April 13.

A senior official in Pak Arab Refinery Company Limited (PARCO) said the company is expected to earn $70 million by the end of June next year.

He told on Thursday that so far 14 consignments have gone since April at premium price obtained through international tenders. Petrol is being exported at the average rates ranging between $214-215 per ton.

Petrol 90 RON has become surplus by some 300,000 tons. The country's annual requirement of petrol is one million tons per annum.

The demand of petrol has been declining in the country since increase in the conversion of vehicles from petrol to compressed natural gas (CNG). The demand of petrol has fallen by 5.7 per cent in July- October 2,001 to 364,000 tons from 386,000 tons in the same period of 2,000.

30pc fall in Sialkot exports feared

Businessmen from Sialkot fear a 30 per cent plunge in the total annual exports of about $650 million from their city due to massive cancellation of orders in the wake of the Sept 11 events.

All export sectors, except surgical instruments industry, have been hit very hard by the Sept 11 events and the ensuing economic slowdown in the US and elsewhere in the world, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Dawood Chathha said on Thursday.

Wooden furniture export on rise

The exports of wooden furniture had jumped by more than 119.5 per cent during the last four years, rising from a modest $1.89 million during 1996-97 to $4.15 million in 1999-2000.

According to a report compiled by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) on Tuesday, this phenomenal rise in furniture export was due to effective marketing by Pakistani exporters in recent years.

Surplus wheat to be exported

The government has decided to export 1.1 million tons of wheat through private sector out of a total surplus of over 2 million tons of wheat. The decision was taken at the surplus wheat disposal meeting presided over by the Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday. The country has over two million tons of surplus wheat which remained undisposed of after Iran declined to import from Pakistan, saying it was below standard quality and similarly Iraq cancelled the order midway through, citing the same reasons.

Rice export declines by 4.21pc in 5 months

Pakistan's rice export has declined by 4.21 per cent to 550,428 tons during the first five months of the current fiscal year.

According to rice exporters on Monday, the value of exported rice has been estimated at $159.788 million during July-November 2001.

Last year Pakistan exported about 563,408 tons worth $164 million during the same period. The export of brown rice through Trading Corporation of Pakistan is estimated at 22,689 tons worth $12.12 million during the period under review.

Wood products worth Rs8.5bn imported

Pakistan imported wood and wood products worth Rs8,499.3 million during 1999-2000 due to the high rates of deforestation, a Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) study revealed.

Similarly, the country's total exports of wood and wood products stood at mere Rs381.4 million.