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Fall in exports

ACCORDING to the data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), despite devaluation of Pakistani rupee and government giving incentives to export sector, the country’s sale of goods to outside world declined by 11.13 percent in March 2019 to $1.979 billion. Last year in the same month the exports were $2.227 billion. Imports in the month under review also declined by 20.88 percent to $4.155 billion against what was recorded $5.25 billion in corresponding month of last year.
Trade deficit has been a serious issue and source of concern for Pakistan and the rupee has been devalued ruthlessly at the instance of donors like International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get over the problem. Rupee has been devalued by about one third since December 2017 but unfortunately no worthwhile improvement has been witnessed in exports since then. The myth that devaluation leads to growth in exports has been broken and this should serve as an eye-opener for our policy-makers who succumb to demands for devaluation at the cost of price-hike for people of Pakistan and increase in the debt burden. PTI leadership has been critical of devaluation and it was expected that after assumption of power it would adopt a rational and nationalist approach but regrettably the present government has allowed the rupee to fall and there are rumours that it might lose its worth further after signing of a deal with the IMF. All this shows that the fault lies somewhere else and it is for economists and policy-makers to identify and rectify the fault for a meaningful increase in exports. On the face of it, Pakistani products are not competitive in the international market due to repeated increase in the cost of inputs and higher cost of doing business. When you have no surplus to export then obviously there is no question of increase in exports. Again, our industry is not laying the required focus on research and development, innovation, value addition, packaging, grading and proper marketing. There are also complaints that our missions abroad do not make genuine efforts to find markets for our products and trade officers, who are mostly appointed on the basis of connections, only enjoy their foreign postings. Appointment of trade officers on merit could also help improve the situation besides taking overseas Pakistanis on board in marketing efforts.