Tuesday, October 03, 2023

11-month economic slump ends, as exports increase in Sept

Growth happened after 11 consecutive months of year-on-year reductions ranging from 3.25% to 26.2%

Containers are docked at a port in this file photo. — Reuters/File
Containers are docked at a port in this file photo. — Reuters/File

  • 4.2% increase was recorded in Sept this year.
  • In Sept last year, exports stood at $2.437 billion.
  • Imports fell sharply by 25.3% to $3.95 billion.

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported an increase in exports by 1.15% to $2.465 billion in September 2023, for the first time in 11 months, overturning a lengthy slump attributed to the country's dwindling economy.

According to PBS data reported by The News, the exports stood at $2.437 billion in the same month last year. The growth, it added, was modest but significant, as it happened in the wake of 11 consecutive months of year-on-year reductions ranging from 3.25% to 26.2%.

As the exports rose by 4.2% over those in August 2023 which stood at $2.366 billion, the turnaround was apparent on a monthly basis, the PBS mentioned in its report.

The shift was seen last month in August when the pace of decline slowed to single-digit from earlier sharp declines seen since October last year. Notably, year-on-year in October 2022, exports reduced by 3.25%, November 17.6%, December 16.3%, January 14.15%, February 22.7%, March 14.6%, April 26.2%, May 16.2%, June 19.1%, July 8.09%, August 4.7%, but now in September it increased by 1.15%.

The imports fell sharply by 25.3% to $3.95 billion in September 2023 from a year ago, mainly due to lower oil prices, reduced demand for machinery and raw materials, and tight import controls by the government to curb the trade deficit.

On a monthly basis, imports dropped by 12.7% from $4.5 billion in August 2023. As a result, the trade deficit narrowed by 47.9% to $1.49 billion in September 2023 from $2.86 billion in September 2022. In August 2023, the deficit was $2.16 billion.

In the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-September 2023-24), exports fell by 3.8% to $6.9 billion, while its imports declined by 25.4% to $12.2 billion, compared with the same period of the previous fiscal year. The trade deficit shrank by 42.15% to $5.29 billion in the first quarter of FY24 from $9.16 billion in the first quarter of FY23.

In FY23, Pakistan’s trade deficit fell by 43% to $27.55 billion from $48.35 billion in FY22, as total exports dipped by 12.7% to $27.7 billion and imports contracted by 31% to $55.3 billion.

The data also showed that the trade deficit in services widened by 174% to $463 million in July-August 2023-24 from $169 million in July-August 2022-23 due to higher demand for foreign services as the economy reopened.

From July to August 2023-24, Pakistan spent $1.6 billion on the services it hired from abroad and offered its services of $1.14 billion. Similarly, in the same period last year, exports were $1.1 billion and imports of $1.28 billion. During these two months, exports increased by 2% while imports up by 24.7%. In August, services exports were valued at $600 million, while imports amounted to $789 million, resulting in a deficit of $189 million.

In July 2023, exports were at $535 million, imports at $809 million, and the deficit at $274 million. During the month under review, services exports increased by 12.14%, and imports decreased by 2.45% compared to the previous month. Comparing August 2023’services trade performance to the same month of the previous year, exports were up by 2.34%, and imports also increased by 9.1%.