THE country’s trade deficit soared by 55.29 percent in the last fiscal year. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the trade deficit jumped to $ 48.25 billion against $ 31.07 billion recorded in a year earlier which should be a matter of concern and needs to be checked through a holistic approach focused mainly on exports and attracting foreign direct investment.
There is no denying the fact that massive increase in the prices of petroleum products and food items has contributed to this massive increase in trade deficit and this will also negatively impact current account deficit which according to economic experts is anticipated to settle down around $ 16.5 billion for the last fiscal year.
The situation, in fact, would have been far worse if our overseas Pakistanis not contributed immensely through their remittances.
Because of these growing deficits, the size of our begging bowl which once was cherished to be broken once and for all is rather unfortunately getting bigger with each passing year.
Apart from getting loans from the IMF and other financial institutions, we have also to approach friendly countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to save the country from default every now and then.
The question is for how long this process will continue and the friendly countries come to our rescue?
Has anybody given a serious thought to steer the country out of this quagmire? The government has recently taken some steps to contract imports but these problems of trade and current account deficit will continue to haunt us until and unless we seriously bolster our productive sectors, especially the agriculture, industries and IT.
We are an agrarian country but still heavily reliant on the import of edible oil. The farmers should be fully supported in cultivation of canola and olive to turn Pakistan edible-oil sufficient rather exporting country.
Similarly, we need to domestically grow all the pulses. The country’s exports grow by meagre ten or twenty percent every year.
We need to make leapfrog jump in our exports and keeping in view the example in our neighbouring India, this is very much achievable by promoting the IT sector including through provision of incentives and provision of better education facilities in this field to the youth.