PM Imran Khan directs commerce division to control import-export gap

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Friday directed the concerned officials to take immediate measures to check the existing gap between imports and exports.

PM Imran Khan issued the direction while presiding over a high-level meeting to review various measures taken by the government for enhancing the volume of exports.

Speaking on the occasion, he directed the Commerce Division to present within the next two weeks Strategic Exports Framework for approval and set targets for trade and investment officers posted abroad.

The prime minister said with facilitation and ease of doing business for exporters, the government’s priority in terms of enhancing exports was the diversification of products and markets.

The meeting was told that with a focus on 19 products, including in the areas of information technology, textile, medicines, poultry, rice, vegetables, dry fruit, leather, salt, marble, ceramics and surgical instruments, the country’s current volume of exports could be increased by $30 billion.

The Commerce Division told the meeting that consultation with all the stakeholders including industrialists, exporters and relevant government institutions was in progress.

Trade gap widens

In a worrying development, Pakistan’s trade deficit surged to $7.337 billion during July-August period of the current fiscal year (2021-22) as imports outpaced exports drastically, according to a The News report published last week.

The report had stated that the government is left with no other option but to take measures to curtail rising imports otherwise, this yawning trade deficit may start posing risks to worsening the current account deficit (CAD).

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had projected CAD to hover around 2-3% of GDP, equivalent to $6 billion to $9 billion for the current fiscal year. However, independent economists like Dr Hafiz Pasha see the CAD going up to $12-13 billion for the current fiscal year.

The pace at which the trade deficit has widened in just the first two months poses serious threats to the balance of payment position amid chances of stagnation of remittances from abroad.

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