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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan-14 - 20, 2002

Half-yearly trade deficit stands at $425m

Half-yearly trade deficit has amounted to $425 million against $922 million during the same period last year, with indications that exports would be short of the government's target by around $1.5 billion.

The unofficial provisional trade figures provided to Dawn suggest that total exports during first six months (July-December) this year have amounted to $4.450 billion compared with $4.474 billion same period last year, showing a decline of 0.54 per cent. In rupee terms, half-yearly exports increased by 11.4 per cent.

Similarly, half-yearly imports have amounted to $4.875 billion compared with $5.395 billion during same period of last year, recording a negative growth of 9.65 per cent. Based on these figures, the import target of $11 billion is estimated to remain short of target by over $1 billion.

Initial analysis of the trade figures for first half of the current year suggests that although the trade deficit was within the annual target parameters, the export target of $10.1 billion will not be achievable in the existing circumstances.

Given the fact that first three months (July-September) were unaffected by the attacks on United States and if the post-September 11 impact on exports continues the shortfall would be even higher.

On monthly basis, the trade balance in December tilted in favour of Pakistan by around $6.7 million. In November 2001, there was a trade deficit of around $14 million and in December 2000, trade deficit was slightly over $4 million.

Exports during December 2001, amounted to $713.96 million compared with $750.940 million same month last year, showing a decline of 4.84 per cent.

Imports in December stood at $707.27 million against $754.75 million same month last year, registering a decrease of 6.29 per cent. In the preceding month of November imports had stood at $825 million which showed that last month imports in December declined by 14 per cent.

Master plan for Gwadar Port on cards

Chinese engineers are currently preparing a master plan for the Gwadar Port and after signing a contract with them on infrastructure development , the ground-breaking ceremony of the Rs1.2 billion port will be held on March 23.

This was disclosed by Minister for Communications and Railways, Javed Ashraf Qazi in a meeting with members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) here at the Federation House on Thursday.

He said the ground-breaking ceremony was to be held in December but was postponed due to September 11 tragedy as many Chinese workers as well as other foreigners had left the country. They have now returned.

He said the Gwadar Port would provide the shortest possible access to the landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics and Pakistan would immensely gain from the project.

Wheat exports

Iraq has agreed to give due consideration to Pakistan's request to allow private sector for handling wheat exports, being purchased under phase 11 of the UN programme 'oil-for-food', official sources said.

Under the programme Iraq has already invited bids for the purchase of 35,000 tons wheat through international tender and January 5, 2002 was the last date for filing of bids.

Although the Trading Corporation of Pakistan has already submitted its bid for the export of 35,000 tons wheat to Iraq, after deregulating wheat exports the government is keen to involve private sector in the exports.

During recent visit to Iraq, TCP chairman Syed Masood Alam Rizvi took the matter with the Grain Board of Iraq (GBI) for allowing the private sector to participate in wheat exports.

Turkish trade fair from Feb 16

About 31 Turkish companies would display their 250 products at a four-day Turkey-Pakistan partnership exhibition being held at the Expo Centre from Feb 16 to 19, 2002, Karachi.

The Turkish companies are expected to display their products ranging from automotive and spare parts, chemicals, construction, consumer and consumer durable goods, electric and electronic goods, food, footwear to machinery and textile machinery, the consul general added.

Egypt ready to import wheat, rice

Egypt has offered to import rice, tobacco and wheat from Pakistan and enhance bilateral cooperation in other fields. The offer was made by a group of Egyptian investors during a meeting with Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz here on Tuesday.

The delegation was led by Shafik Gabr, Chairman and the Managing Director of ARTOC Group of Investment and Development here on Tuesday. The other members of the delegation included Salah Hafez, Board member, Nagy El-Barkouky, Board Member, Abdel Hamid Gadou, Marketing Manger and officials of the Egyptian Embassy.

Mr Gabr, who is considered one of the richest Egyptian businessmen having business in many countries, also showed interest to invest in major projects such as dams and roads on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.

Meat export may suffer another setback

Meat exports may suffer another setback due to shortage of meat in view of suspension of smuggled livestock arrival from India through Pakistan-India border, sources said on Saturday.

They said that export of meat has already been under pressure since the ban imposed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in July 2002 and Saudi Arab in March 2001.

Exports of meat in July-November 2001 plunged by 52 per cent to $1.2 million as compared to $2.56 million in the same period of 2000. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were considered as main markets for meat exports.

Textile residual quota

A large number of exporters have criticized the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) for fixing January 15, 2002 for carrying out first auction of residual quota of textile.

The representative bodies of exporters have been approached by their members in large number expressing their resentment over the fixation of such a date by EPB for quota auction when most of exporters would be away from the country.