ISLAMABAD-The government has missed the annual exports target of $25.5 billion for the previous financial year (2015-16) by a huge margin of $4.7 billion.

Pakistan exported goods worth $20.8 billion during last fiscal year as against the target of $25.5 billion. This was for the first time in last many years that country’s exports could not surpass the $21 billion level. Exports were recorded at $25 billion during the year 2013-14 and $24 billion in 2014-15.

Pakistan’s exports fell owing to lower international prices of cotton and rice, ongoing security issues, a poor business climate, slowdown in economic growth of China, losing textile share to new competitors in international markets and competitiveness losses related to real exchange rate appreciation.

“Exports could not increase due to the several issues like tax refunds, high cost of energy, tariff rationalization and private sector access to credit,” said an exporter. He further said that government should resolve the tax refund issue of the exporters, as around Rs250 billion had been stuck with the Federal Board of Revenue.

On the other hand, the government said that it has taken steps in Strategic Trade Policy Framework and annual budget to enhance the country’s exports. “The government has announced several measures in budget to boost exports, which include zero-rating facility for five exports sectors - textile, leather, sports goods, surgical goods and carpets”, said an official of the Ministry of Commerce. The government had announced the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (2015-2018) to enhance country’s exports to $35 billion by the end of June 2018.

The latest figures of PBS showed that country’s exports had reduced by 12.11 percent to $20.8 billion in the last financial year from $23.7 billion of the preceding year. Meanwhile, the country’s imports went down by 2.32 percent to $44.8 billion from $45.8 billion of the previous year. Therefore, trade deficit, gap between exports and imports, was registered at $23.9 billion during the year 2015-2016 as against $22.2 billion of the same period of previous year, showing an increase of 8.14 percent. The government had missed the trade deficit target of $17.7 billion set for the previous fiscal year.

According to the PBS figures, exports reduced by 8.73 percent to $1.65 billion during June 2016 from $1.8 billion of the same month of the last year. Meanwhile, the imports went up by 2.27 to $4.5 billion in June 2016 from $4.4 billion of the June previous year. Therefore, trade deficit was registered at $2.8 billion during June 2016 as against $2.6 billion of the corresponding month of the last year, showing an increase of 10.04 percent.