Muhammad Shakeel Muhammad, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has expressed great concerns over the Pakistan’s rising trade deficit, which has widened 70 percent to USD 35.4 billion during July-March 2022 due to rising imports and stagnant exports, which should be a cause of serious apprehension for the policymakers. He called for urgent remedial measures to curb this unhealthy trend as it would create multiple problems for the fragile economy. He said this while talking to a delegation of traders that called on him led by Ahmed Khan, President, Traders Association, G-10 Markaz, Islamabad. Muhammad Naveed Malik former Senior Vice President, Ashfaq Hussain former Vice President, Ali Akram Khan, Zohaib Khan and others were in the delegation.
Muhammad Shakeel Munir said that the trade deficit had reached an all-time high of $37.7 billion in 2017-18 fiscal year and due to the great efforts of the government, it was brought down to $23.2 billion in 2019-20. However, the trade deficit has again increased to an alarming level and if this trend continues, it could cross USD 40 billion by the end of this fiscal year. He said that despite being an agricultural country, Pakistan was importing many agricultural products including wheat, sugar, palm oil and other food items, which was contributing to rising trade deficit. He stressed that the agriculture research institutes of the government should work with farmers and help them to improve the per acre yield of agriculture productivity so that the indigenous production could meet the local needs and the country could get rid of relying on imported food items.
ICCI President said that the industrial sector was importing many products including raw materials and intermediate goods to meet its manufacturing needs and emphasized that the government should encourage the indigenous production of imports substitutions that would help in reducing import bill and cutting down the trade deficit of the country.
Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh Senior Vice President and Muhammad Faheem Khan Vice President ICCI said that the Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan should facilitate the private sector in exploring all potential exports markets including Africa, Central Asia and others to boost export that would be instrumental in keeping the trade deficit within manageable level.