ISLAMABAD: The country’s exports decreased 9.35 percent to $1.658 billion in August over the same month a year ago, official data showed on Friday, as anemic demand of textile products in the European Union (EU) and other developed world hit the foreign currency inflows.

The monthly imports, however, increased 13.91 percent to $4.331 billion, said the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Year-on-year, the trade deficit widened 35.48 percent or $2.673 billion in August.

August exports were, however, up 12.1 percent from $1.479 billion in July and imports surged 21.76 percent from $3.557 billion. The PBS data further showed that exports fell 8.19 percent to $3.138 billion in July and August and imports rose 10.32 percent to $7.88 billion.

During these two months, the economy racked up a trade deficit of $4.75 billion as against $3.732 billion recorded in the same period of the preceding fiscal year, depicting an increase of 27.28 percent.

Economists believe that the decline in exports was due to low demand, especially of textiles and its products from EU and other developed world. The country recorded trade deficit of $23.96 billion in the last fiscal year of 2015/16 as compared to $22.16 billion in 2014/15. During the FY16, exports fell 12.1 percent to $20.8 billion as compared to $23.66 billion in FY15. Imports totaled $44.76 billion in the period under review as against $45.8 billion in the preceding year, down 2.3 percent.

Since 2003 Pakistan has consistently been accumulating a consistent trade deficit, mainly due to high imports of energy products.  China has emerged as the country’s largest trading partner, replacing the United States. In the recent years, the biggest trade deficits were recorded with China, India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Malaysia. Pakistan, however, records trade surpluses with the U.S., Afghanistan, Germany and United Kingdom.

Experts said the export market diversification – especially Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle Eastern countries – is highly needed. The government should also encourage technological upgrades in exports and develop agriculture, cottage, handicrafts and gems and jewelry sectors, they added.

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