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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Feb-11 - 17, 2002

Trade deficit contracts by 49pc

Trade deficit during first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal contracted to $578.13 million against $1.134 billion last year, down by 49 per cent.

The contraction was attributed to around 10 per cent reduction in imports rather than improvement in exports that also declined by 1.5 per cent during the seven month period.

Exports during seven months (July-January 2002) of current year stood at $5.155 billion against $5.234 billion last year, according to provisional figures obtained on Wednesday.

Seven-month imports were $5.733 billion compared with $6.368 billion same period last year registering a reduction of 9.97 per cent.

Provisional figures also suggest that exports in January amounted to $697.203 million against $759.9 million same period last year showing a negative growth of 8.25 per cent. Similarly, the imports in January 2002 stood at $857.76 million compared with $972.752 million the same month last year registering a reduction of 11.82 per cent.

In this way trade deficit during the month of January 2002 was $160.557 million against $213 million the same period of last year.

The federal government has already revised its annual export target of $10.2 billion to $9 billion in view of continuous decline as a spill-over impact of US attack on Afghanistan.

Last year, trade deficit during the month of January was $213 million.

In terms of Pakistani rupee, the exports during the seven month period, however, registered an increase of 8.88 per cent as exports were Rs321 billion against Rs295 billion last year.

During January this year exports in rupees terms, however, declined by 6.49 per cent while imports registered a reduction of 10.12 per cent in rupee terms.

Dutiable imports up in July-Jan

Dutiable imports surged by 0.65 per cent to Rs220.746 billion during the July-January period of the current financial year against Rs219.327 billion over the corresponding period of the last year.

However, in January the dutiable imports fell by 12.54 per cent to Rs32.69 billion against Rs37.38 billion in the same month last year.

On the other hand, the total imports bill during the seven months, however, increased by 7.2 per cent to Rs375.364 billion against Rs350.113 billion during the same period last year. While the total import bill during the first six months surged by Rs11.3 per cent to Rs322.26 billion during against Rs289.53 billion last year.

Rice export thin on low crop, high rates

Rice prices remained firm during the past week on good local demand, but traders said on Monday that high domestic prices and low crop figures had almost put the brakes on exports.

"Heavy buying from local stockists on reports of low crop this season has kept the prices firm, otherwise there was not much activity in the market," said Haji Majeed, a rice exporter in Karachi. He added that exports orders were negligible and traders were only shipping their previous commitments.

"The lower-than-expected output from the latest crop has raised the domestic prices sky high...no foreign buyer is willing to pay the price we are quoting for export," Majeed said.

Pakistan has scaled down its rice output estimate for fiscal 2001-02 (July-June) by one million tons to 3.74 million tons because of irrigation water shortages during the growing season. The country's annual domestic rice consumption is around 2.3 million tons.

S. Arabia may lift ban on meat import

The government of Saudi Arabia is likely to lift ban on meat import from Pakistan shortly. A senior official in the Ministry of Commerce told on Thursday that a four-member Saudi technical delegation is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on February 9 in this connection.

The Saudi government had imposed a ban on import of meat from all major sources including Pakistan in March 2001 on the basis of reports of outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Rs2.5bn paid as drawback in July-Jan

The Collectorate of Customs (exports), Karachi, during January 2002 disbursed Rs2,500 million as duty drawback to various exporters as compared to Rs1530 million disbursed during the corresponding period last year. There is an increase of Rs997 million or 66 per cent towards duty drawback payments.

The collectorate during July-Jan of the current fiscal disbursed Rs12251 million as duty drawback as compared to Rs8694 million during the corresponding period last year showing an increase of Rs3,775 million or 41 per cent.

Pakistan, Ukraine to sign trade agreement

Pakistan will sign a bilateral trade agreement with Ukraine during the forthcoming visit of Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood to Kiev.

This was disclosed by Ukrainian ambassador to Pakistan V.S. Ponomarenko in his meeting with Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Dr Khalid Chowdhry on Saturday. He was hopeful that the trade agreement would open new avenues of business cooperation between the two countries.