Islamabad, June 6: Pakistan's plan to take exports to USD 35 billion by next fiscal year-end under a strategic trade policy framework is unlikely to be met as its projected 10.7 per cent growth in exports for this year is far short of the required annual earnings, a media report said on Monday, June 6.
The USD 35-billion target, set just two months ago, needs a much more rapid rise in annual earnings than a meager 10.7 per cent, The Express Tribune reported citing experts.
Under the annual development plan released by the federal government with the 2016-17 budget, exports in the new fiscal year were projected to rise 10.7 per cent to USD 24.8 billion from an estimated USD 22.4 billion in 2015-16, it said.
Imports are forecast to grow 14.7 per cent to USD 45.2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year 2016-17 compared to an estimated USD 39.4 billion in the outgoing year 2015-16. Consequently, the trade deficit will be USD 20.4 billion in 2016-17 as opposed to a projected USD 17 billion in 2015-16.
The report said the government wasted an entire year in framing the Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18 and now it has set only a 10.7 per cent export growth target for the second year of the framework.
In this scenario, Pakistan will find it extremely difficult to hit USD 35 billion in export earnings by the end of fiscal year 2017-18.
"The USD 35-billion export target is unlikely to be achieved by June 2018; there must be at least 30 per cent growth each year to meet this goal," said an official of the Ministry of Commerce.
In the annual plan, however, the government has outlined a number of initiatives to forge regional connectivity to boost bilateral and multilateral trade with countries in the region.
The key measures include the resolution of outstanding issues in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and initiation of negotiations and early conclusion of the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan Transit Trade Agreement.
Effective implementation of the International Road Transport (TIR) convention and reactivation of the Quadrilateral Transit Trade Agreement among Pakistan, China, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan are also in the priority list of government initiatives.
Apart from these, formulation of the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia regional economic integration framework through a regional trade office in the Ministry of Commerce is also part of the priority list.
For a short-term boost to exports, basmati rice, horticulture goods, meat products and jewellery will be given preference with focus on the markets of Iran, Afghanistan, China and the European Union.