LAHORE - The business community has expressed concern over historic trade deficit and urged the Ministries of Finance and Commerce to take instantaneous measures to sustain balance between imports and exports.

LCCI Acting President Amjad Ali Jawa said that issue of trade deficit must be controlled immediately otherwise this important economic indicator would shatter the confidence of investors. He said that Pakistan’s trade deficit has sharply swelled by around $30 billion or 42.12 percent during first eleven months of current fiscal year as compared to the deficit of $21.1 billion in the corresponding months of the last fiscal year. The widening of trade deficit is due to significant increase in imports by 20.6 percent to $48.53 billion during July–May 2016-17 as compared to $40.25 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. LCCI Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan said that rising imports and declining exports are developing a perception that Pakistan is becoming a trading place instead of a hub of industrialisation. He said that apart from cutting the cost of doing business in Pakistan, the government would have to evolve a long-term strategy to make its products attractive in the global market to increase its exports. LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar said that the growing trade deficit, led by sharp slowdown in exports growth, is posing a key challenge to the macroeconomic stability of the country besides converting it into a Consumer Society. He said that galloping trade deficit might dent country’s debt payment capacity that ultimately would not be a happy sign for the overall economy.

Kashif Anwar suggested that the concerned government quarters should join heads with the private sector for finding out a methodology for increasing the exports of the country that is a prerequisite to control trade deficit.

FPCCI former president Mian Idrees said that to give a relief to the export-oriented sectors, major issues like huge delay in release of refunds, continuous power supply to the industrial sector, high input cost and large number of duties and taxes should be resolved on priority. He said that Pakistani Mission abroad should also be given task to explore new markets and new buyers for Pakistani merchandise besides convincing foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.