ISLAMABAD                  -                Pakistan’s oil import bill went down by over 14 percent in eight months of the current fiscal year due to the slowdown in economic activities of the country.

Total oil imports amounted to $8.23 billion during first eight months (July to February) of the current year, compared to $9.62 billion during the same period last year, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The breakup of $8.23 billion showed that import of petroleum products was recorded at $3.64 billion, petroleum crude at $2.32 billion and liquefied natural gas at $2.06 billion and liquefied petroleum gas at $216 million.

The reduction in import quantities of crude oil and petroleum products is a clear indication of reduced transportation and other economic activities in the country.

This also suggests lower capacity utilisation of local oil refineries, compared to the last year, resultantly affecting their profitability.

Massive reduction in oil import bill had helped in reducing overall imports of the country. Pakistan’s overall imports declined by 13.81 percent to $31.52 billion in July to February period of the year 2019-20 from $36.56 billion in the corresponding period of previous year.

Apart from the oil, import of all other sectors except machinery had also declined during eight months of the current fiscal year.

Food imports contracted 8.07percent to $3.56 billion in July-February period of 2019-20, from $3.87 billion in corresponding months last year. This decline was largely due to a 27 percent fall in the value of milk and its products and soyabean oil, which decreased by 21.87 percent in the period under review from previous year.

Import bill of the machinery clocked in at $6 billion, showing an increase of 0.42 percent. The biggest contributor to the increase was electrical machinery and apparatus, which enhanced by 33.98 percent, followed by 29.19 percent increase in telecom and 2.79 percent in power generating machinery.

However, transport group, another major contributor to the trade deficit, also receded decline during the period under review as it posted a 44 percent decline, with decrease in imported value of almost all subcategories.

On the other hand, agriculture imports inched down by 14.67 percent to $5.02 billion from $5.89 billion on the back of 32.22 percent decrease in fertiliser.

According to the PBS data, Pakistan’s overall exports had reduced by 3.62 percent to $15.64 billion in last fiscal year from $15.09 billion of the preceding year. The country’s textile exports were recorded at $9.37 billion during last fiscal year.

The country’s textile exports had gone up by 5.3 percent over the preceding year. The incumbent government had provided several incentives to the five exports oriented sectors including textile to enhance the country’s exports.

The government had depreciated the currency and reduced the prices of electricity and gas but it failed to achieve the desired results as export still increased by only 3.62 percent.

In textile sector, according to PBS, exports of knitwear had enhanced by 7.79 percent during the eight months of the current fiscal year over a year ago.

Similarly, exports of bedwear had also recorded an increase of 4.44 percent and exports of yarn had gone up by 5.32 percent. Meanwhile, exports of ready-made garments had also surged by 12.63 percent last financial year.

The PBS data showed that exports of cotton cloth had recorded a decline of 2.22 percent. Similarly, exports of raw cotton had tumbled by 9.94 percent. Exports of cotton yarn witnessed decrease of 0.86 percent. Meanwhile, exports of towels had increased by 1.45 percent.

Meanwhile, the exports of food commodities had recorded increase of 5.3 percent during the year 2019-20. In food commodities, exports of fruits recorded growth of 1.62 percent, vegetables exports increase by 71.1 percent.