ISLAMABAD – Putting immense pressure on the foreign reserves, the import bill alone surged by 40.5 percent to $ 7.4 billion in July-March 2007-08 against the corresponding period last year, showed the updated official trade figures here on Tuesday.
The petroleum products import bill is almost 1/4th of the total imports of $ 27.9 billion during the first 9 months of the current fiscal year, which, in terms of value as usual remained at the top on the list of imported items. The upward swing in the prices of crude oil in the international market to a record $ 118 a barrel is considered as the major reason for increase in the value of oil import.
“The government will pay billions of dollars to the oil companies and will use the foreign reserves. It is a challenging task for the economic managers to tactfully manage the oil shocks,” a trade analyst commented.
The international oil prices have added further worries to the already under stress policy makers, as the country is badly facing energy deficiency at the moment. Power deficiency reached to 30 percent but there is not any immediate plan to come out of the crisis.
The latest imports of selected commodities during July-March 2007-08 revealed that food group consisting mainly of edible items remained the second largest group in the overall import bill with $ 3.03 billion, showing an increase of 42 percent as compared to the same period last year.
Another worrisome factor is the growing dependency on the import of raw cotton that rose by 132 percent during July-March 2007-08 over the corresponding period last year. Pakistan known as one of the largest cotton exporting countries and its economy is said to be cotton-based but the imports of raw cotton presented the discouraging picture.
The import of overall textile group registered a growth of 63 percent in the last 9 months of the current financial year as compared to the same period last year.
The machinery group imports recorded 5.86 percent to $ 5.1 billion during the period under review of this year. Experts on trade and industrial sectors noted the decline in import of machinery in the different sub-sectors, reflecting a negative trend in the overall industrial sector. It will also negatively impact the economic growth with lower industrial productions.
According to the report, the imports of transport group also went down by 16.2 percent in the said period over the last year. All the major items in this group registered negative growth.
The imports in agriculture and other chemicals group grew by 35 percent with major growth of fertilizers manufactured by 190 percent during July-March 2007-08, the data showed.
Source: The Nation, 23/4/2008