Sources recorded that trade among nations is beneficial for job creation and fuelling economic growth. Trade helps enhance living standards and promote better quality products and services at competitive prices. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), based on the provisional facts of imports and exports the balance of trade in September, 2019 was recorded (-) 314,835 million in terms of Rupees and (-) 2,016 million in US dollars. The balance of trade figures cumulative from July-September, 2019 were (-) 902,815 million in terms of Rupees and (-) 5,727 million in US dollars. According to PBS, exports from Pakistan during September, 2019 amounted to Rs. 276,276 million (provisional) as compared to Rs. 294,329 million (provisional) in August, 2019 and Rs. 213,771 million during September, 2018 explaining a decline of 6.13 percent over August, 2019 but a rise of 29.24 percent over September, 2018. In terms of US dollars the exports in September, 2019 was recorded to $ 1,769 million (provisional) as against to $ 1,862 million (provisional) in August, 2019 explaining a decline of 4.99 percent but increased by 2.67 percent as against to $ 1,723 million in September, 2018.
According to the PBS, exports during July-September, 2019 totaled Rs. 871,007 million (provisional) as compared to Rs. 666,663 million during the same period of previous year explaining a rise of 30.65 percent. In terms of US dollars the exports during July-September, 2019 totaled $5,522 million (provisional) as compared to $5,374 million during the same period of last year showing a rise of 2.75 percent. Main commodities of exports during September, 2019 were knitwear (Rs. 37,180 million), bed wear (Rs. 31,324 million), readymade garments (Rs. 31,216 million), cotton cloth (Rs. 27,278 million), cotton yarn (Rs. 13,669 million), rice others (Rs. 12,233 million), rice basmati (Rs. 9,280 million), towels (Rs. 8,600 million), made-up articles (excl. towels & bed wear) (Rs. 7,439 million) and fish & fish preparations (Rs. 6,740 million).
It is also important to note that the country is an important member of OIC because of its market size mainly population of 210 million and has emerged as the first atomic power in the Muslim world. The country has strong and significant relations with all Muslim countries at political level but these relations are not reflects in terms of trade volume. Presently, statistics also showed that the trade between Pakistan and OIC countries is meager as against to potential available and reached at US$ 28 billion, export to OIC countries US$5.6 billion and imports from OIC countries US$22.7 billion.
The reason behind the low level of trade is lack of information sharing and low level of interaction among the private sector of Pakistan and OIC countries. Among OIC member states, the Government of Pakistan has inked FTA with Malaysia and PTAs with Indonesia and Iran. Negotiations for FTAs with Turkey and members of Gulf Cooperation Council are in progress. Furthermore, among OIC countries, Afghanistan, UAE, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey are the main export partner of the country whose share is more than one percent in exports of Pakistan. UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia and Oman are major imports partner of OIC contributes more than one percent in imports of Pakistan. Unluckily, business visa is one of the main problems faced by the business community of Pakistan. Most of the OIC members’ countries often take more than a month in providing visa to businessmen of Pakistan and also creates unnecessary hurdles in issuance of visa. In the recent era of rapid communication, the delay in obtaining visa seems to be outmoded resulting low level of business contacts. Not to speak of common citizens and students, even the renowned businessmen which are recommended by FPCCI, are facing problems in obtaining visa. Lack of banking channels with many members OIC countries also create hurdle in payment mechanism and increases the trade cost when Pakistan use third countries banking channels in trade.
Furthermore, Pakistani businessmen also faces complexity of administrative procedures related to international trade at customs level and ports of OIC countries. On the other hand, imports into Pakistan during September, 2019 amounted to Rs. 591,111 million (provisional) as compared to Rs. 589,960 million (provisional) in August, 2019 and Rs. 545,496 million during September, 2018 explaining a rise of 0.20 percent over August, 2019 and by 8.36 percent over September, 2018. In terms of US dollars the imports in September, 2019 was recorded to $3,785 million (provisional) as against to $3,732 million (provisional) in August, 2019, explaining a rise of 1.42 percent but declined by 13.90 percent as against to $4,396 million in September, 2018. Officials also identified that imports during July-September, 2019 totaled Rs. 1,773,822 million (provisional) as compared to Rs. 1,757,449 million during the same period of previous year explaining a rise of 0.93 percent. In terms of US dollars the imports during July-September, 2019 totaled $11,249 million (provisional) as compared to $14,165 million during the same period of last year showing a decline of 20.59 percent. Main commodities of imports during September, 2019 were petroleum products (Rs. 65,984 million), natural gas, liquefied (Rs.56,967 million), petroleum crude (Rs.53,643 million), plastic materials (Rs. 22,920 million), palm oil (Rs. 21,968 million), iron and steel scrap (Rs. 20,542 million), iron and steel (Rs. 16,899 million), electrical machinery and apparatus (Rs. 16,594 million), mobile phone (Rs. 16,487 million) and aircrafts, ships & boats (Rs. 14,638 million).