. .

Feb 19 - 25, 2001

Trade deficit scales to $1.14 billion

The foreign trade deficit mounted to $1.14 billion during the period July-January, exceeding the stipulated target by 42.5 per cent.

The government had envisaged $800 million in trade deficit for the whole year.

According to data released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics on Saturday, the deficit went up further by 12.58 per cent as compared to the corresponding period of previous year.

Consequently, it would consume as much as 21.85 per cent of total exports achieved in the first seven months of the year.

The country exported merchandise worth $5.22 billion during the period under report, up 9.57 per cent from the corresponding period of previous financial year. This substantial increase was, however, cancelled out by 10.09 per cent increase in imports which totalled $6.36 billion.

The portion of imports covered by exports also registered a slight decline from 82.47 per cent in July-January (1999-2000) to 82.07 per cent in the corresponding period of this fiscal.

The increase in exports notwithstanding, the target of $10 billion envisaged in the Trade Policy continued to be as elusive as ever. In order to remain abreast of the target, the exports should have been at least $5.83 billion. An analysis shows that the exports performance was short of that target by $612 million.

To achieve the target by next June, the country would have to export at the rate of nearly $956 million per month. This seems rather difficult because in the preceding seven months, the monthly average of exports has been about $746 million that is, $210 million less than the desired average.

A review of statistics presents a picture hardly more optimistic. During the month of January, 2001, the trade deficit amounted to $218.69 million as against $4.48 million in December, 2000.

Prospects for Pakistani fruits

Japan has showed interest in the import of Pakistani fruits, vegetables and flowers provided their requirement in respect of quality, grading and packing besides fumigation and quarantine are fulfilled.

This was stated by Provincial Agriculture Minister, Hasan Ali Chaniho, on his return after an 8-day visit to Japan during which he explored the possibilities for export of fruits, vegetables and flowers from Pakistan.

Mr Chaniho said that at present Pakistan's exports in fruits, vegetables and flowers stand at only 120 million dollars which can go up ten times in one year only if an Export Processing Zone for these commodities is setup in Karachi.

Hasan Ali said that 120 million dollar export target can be achieved from just one export terminal if setup at Karachi airport. This target can further go up with the establishment of such terminals in all the four Provinces, he observed.

Bids for 225,000 tons of wheat export received

The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), received three bids for export of 225,000 tons of wheat against its tender offer of 500,000 tons, official sources disclosed on Wednesday.

Sources said the highest offer for Pakistani wheat of "hard red winter" quality has been made at $105.25 per tone which is lower by $10 against the prevalent world market rates.

This offer has been made for a quantity of 100,000 tons but TCP officials were not ready to divulge other details of the bid offer. At present wheat prices in the world market are being quoted at around $115 per ton.

Another bid made for equal quantity of 100,000 tons was offered at $90.50 per ton and according to bid documents it stood the lowest among all the valid offers received by the TCP against its international tender for export of wheat.

The TCP's tender documents which had fixed 10,000 tons as a minimum quantity, however, on Wednesday received an offer of a minimum quantity of 25,000 tons.

Notification on temporary import of vehicles

The Central Board of Revenue has announced that in future duty-free import of vehicles on temporary basis would not be allowed for more than three months extended period of stay in Pakistan.

Any stay exceeding three months will attract duties and taxes normally leviable on vehicles involved. Rules for temporary import of duty-free vehicles into Pakistan have been changed through a notification No C.8(2)L&P/87, dated February 15, 2001.

Extra fee on tea import

Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) has asked Commerce Minister Abdul Razzak Dawood to withdraw the SRO regarding one per cent legislation fee charged by the Pakistan High Commission, Nairobi on the tea exported from Kenya to Pakistan.

A sum of over Rs400,000 is being transferred every month from the tea trade to the commission, said chairman Pakistan Tea Association (PTA).

1mn ton sugar to be imported

Pakistan is importing one million ton sugar worth $284 million to meet the gap between local production and consumption this year.

This was disclosed by the agriculture ministry to the economic co-ordination committee (ECC) of the cabinet, which had sought a report on sugar.

According to the ministry, the SBP has said that so far it has opened LCs for the import of 1,072,551 tons of sugar worth $284 million.

Used computers to be imported

The government would import 30,000-40,000 used computers by this summer from the United States for educational institutions, federal Science and Technology Minister Dr Atta-ur-Rehman said on Saturday.

The computers would be distributed through provincial governments.

Talking to newsmen at the seminar on "software professional skill set requirements, skill certification and other issues related to software and manpower", the minister said these computers, mostly 486Mhz and Pentium I, would arrive in batches of 10,000 each and would cost $50 (Rs3,000) per computer. The government, which manages the funds for imports, would place the import order next week.