As they say, there are three levels of lies; lie, white lie and official statistics. Most of the times, official statistics are engineered to make things look good and are used like hasheesh to have a feel of the paradise. Although all other indicators incluing exchange rate belie the claim, official statistics want us to believe that our exports have improved viz-a-viz imports. According to a report appearing in the Express Tribune, the trade deficit has narrowed 10.6 per cent during financial year 2009-10 compared to a year ago due to strong recovery in exports and contraction of imports, said the Federal Bureau of Statistics.
The gap between imports and exports shrank to $15.4 billion in the year ended June 30 compared to a deficit of $17.2 billion in 2008-09, a dip of $1.8 billion or 10.54 per cent. However, despite the significant reduction in deficit, Pakistan missed the annual export and import targets set by the Ministry of Commerce.
Provisional trade data showed that during the financial year ended June 30, Pakistan exported goods worth $19.4 billion to the rest of the world, recording an increase of 9.6 per cent when compared to last year. The export target for the year had been fixed at $20 billion. The import target was missed by a staggering $6 billion as the total value of goods coming into the country was estimated to be $34.7 billion, a mere 0.4 per cent drop compared to imports in fiscal 2008-09. The ministry had hoped to bring imports down to $28.7 billion.
“The improvement in trade deficit and record remittances will enhance the country’s capacity to pay back International Monetary Fund loans,” commented Saqib Sherani, the Principal Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry. He added that a surge in non-traditional export items like gems and jewellery had helped the country earn about $2 billion. He suggested that there was a need to further diversify the export basket.
The massive depreciation of the rupee against the dollar had also provided exporters a window of opportunity to sell their products in the foreign market at competitive rates. On the imports side, a substantial drop in prices of crude and palm oil in the international market coupled with reduced domestic demand slashed the import bill. Imports of machinery and telecommunication equipment also decreased during the last fiscal year.
The trade deficit demonstrated an improvement of over 22 per cent in June 2010 when compared with the same month of the previous financial year. According to official statistics, exports in June 2010 increased to $1.81 billion from $1.53 billion recorded in June 2009. Imports during the month were around $3.3 billion, a reduction of more than three per cent as compared to last June. While comparing the performance of exports in June 2010 with the previous month of the same year, it was learnt that exports increased by 3.8 per cent in dollar terms. Resultantly, the trade deficit in June shrank by 12 per cent when compared with May. Pakistan exported goods amounting to $1.82 billion in the month of June. Imports during the month, as compared with May, decreased from $3.4 billion to $3.3 billion.