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Feb 12 - 18, 2001

Exports rise by 17.3pc in Jan

Pakistan's exports registered an increase of 17.3 per cent in January this year but $10 billion dollar target set for the current year still looked difficult.

Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, Commerce Minister A Razzak Dawood showed excitement that the exports were up by 17.3 per cent in January 2001 over the same period in 2000, which is encouraging for us.

However, he conceded that the achievement of $10 billion target was still very difficult, because of an overall low increase in exports during the first six months of the current financial year.

He also said that trade gap was further widened from $938 million of December 2000 to $1.1 billion in January.

Giving the details, he said there was 9.6 per cent increase in exports during the first half of 2000-2001. He regretted that the month of December was poor to increase exports due to almost one week holidays on account of Eid-ul-Fitr.

"I was very worried because of the declining trends in exports in December, but things improved in January," he said and added that February was likely to be good. "But," he said, "now I am worried about March and April, which are traditionally weak months as far as exports are concerned."

Nevertheless, the commerce minister pointed out that May and June would be good to have somewhat better exports compared to last financial year.

He said target of exports for first six months of 2000-01 was fixed at $5.636 billion and, "and we could manage $5.221 billion leaving behind a gap of about $400 million." So far, he said, 93 per cent export target was met.

Responding to a question, Dawood said the exports of rice, leather, engineering goods and chemicals were good while textile remained average as it registered an increase of only six per cent.

100% rise in imported milk powder price

The price of imported skimmed milk powder has increased by 100% whereas the vegetable fat milk is costlier by 17%. The rise in prices has created a shortage in the local market.

Importers said the price hike is the result of phenomenal global price hike.

Milk powder prices in Europe has jumped to $2,300 per metric tons in January from $1,400 in July last.

In the local market, the prices of Ireland skimmed milk rose by 100% to Rs6,000 per 25 kg bag in the domestic market in just one month from Rs3,000 per 25 kg bag.

Trade promotion with Japan

Pakistan and Japan are working together in many fields including bilateral trade, despite sharp differences on signing of the Comprehensive Treaty for Banning (nuclear) Tests (CTBT) by Pakistan, remarked the Federal Commerce and Industries Minister Razzak Dawood on Tuesday.

Speaking at the launching of Pakistan-Japan Business Forum, at the residence of Japanese Consul General Kazumi Dekiba, the commerce minister said, "he will lead a delegation of the forum to meet the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday. The delegation will discuss bilateral trade and economic issues.

The bilateral trade figures, he said, give a surplus balance in favour of Japan but then there is an immense potential to expand where Pakistan can gain and make a big leap.

There will be a marked change in the trade pattern next year, following an impressive reduction in duty rates in new budget, the minister said, adding, "negotiations are being held with the Central Board of Revenue on this issue".

MoU signed to import Indian tea

Tea associations of Pakistan and India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday under which tea supply from India to Pakistan in the current year will go up by more than twice in quantity to seven to eight million kilograms.

Rama Shankar Jhawar, the chairman of the visiting Indian Tea Association (ITA) delegation, offered to further push up tea supply from his country to Pakistan upto 15 to 20 million kilograms from 2002 at "affordable prices".

Shoe industry exempted

The federal government has exempted the shoe industry from payment of duties and taxes on import of unit soles and heals for use in export footwear.

The exemption has been allowed through a Central Board of Revenue (CBR) notification No SRO 79(I)/2001, dated Feb 6, 2001. It would be available for the footwear manufacturing on the condition that the imported items are re-exported.

Sea freight to US, Europe up

The India-Pakistan-Bangladesh Conference (IPBC) lines announced an increase in freight to Europe and United States by $150 per TEU container, effective from March 1, 2001.

The shipping circles, while disclosing this on Tuesday, further stated, "the freight hike will apply to all exports originating from Pakistan to UK, North Continent, Mediterranean and Scandinavian countries".

This will be the first hike of this year, effected by all the IPBC-member lines which comes at the heels of a shortfall in export target. Last year, these lines enhanced their freight charges thrice to Europe and North Continent.

Duty exemption

The federal government has exempted import of electrical and mechanical machinery for Ghazi Barotha Hydro Power Project from payment of Customs Duty.

A notification No C.1(26)/Mach/95-PT, dated February 6, 2001, exempts such imports by contractors from Customs Duty, which currently ranges between 30 to 35 per cent. These contractors would now be exempted from the duty in excess of 2 per cent.

Rice exports fetch $235.21m

The rice exports has surged by 30% or 222,330 metric tons to fetch more than $235.21 million during first seven months of current fiscal year.

The Controller of Quality Review Committee (QRC) Chaudhry Ikramullah said on Saturday that total rice export was estimated at 963,103 tons till January 31, 2001. About 740,773 tons of rice was exported during the same period last year.