The business community has expressed grave concerns over the alarming rise in the trade deficit of the country which soared to all-time high in November, driven mainly by more than three fold growth in imports compared to exports of the country.

In a statement on Saturday, All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) President Syed Maaz Mahmood was of the view that only export recovery could ease off pressure on the external sector.

Citing that trade deficit had widened for the fifth consecutive month, he lamented that merchandise trade gap reached $5.11 billion in November compared to $1.94 billion in the corresponding month of last year.

“This is the highest trade deficit recorded in a single month in terms of value,” he regretted. “The widening gap between exports and imports is affecting the current account balance.”

Noting that the Import bill of Pakistan was on an uptrend since the start of the ongoing fiscal year, he said that it could place severe pressure on Pakistan’s external account.

Qureshi expressed concern that Pakistan faced unprecedented trade deficit despite drop in the international prices of oil which is the country’s biggest import by value.

“Several reasons can be attributed to the increasing trade deficit including structural factors and erroneous policies,” he said.

Pakistan followed the policy of import substitution rather than export promotion therefore little emphasis was given on enhancing exports, he remarked.

He expressed concern that the country relied heavily on the textile industry for exports.

Cloth, cotton yarn and value-added textiles made up almost 60% of Pakistan’s total exports, he said highlighting that the economic charts of the country stood at an unsatisfactory level at present.

“We urge the government and policymakers to enable the private sector to play its role in putting the economy on track of prosperity,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2021.

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