Pakistan's Exports Surging At The Fastest Rate in South Asia
With several major brands moving production to Pakistan amid the COVID19 pandemic, the country's exports have grown at a faster pace than those of Bangladesh and India, according to Bloomberg News. Pakistan's total textile shipments rose 7% in September, compared with India’s 6% and Bangladesh’s 3.5%.
|South Asia Region's Exports. Source: Bloomberg|
|Pakistan's Textiles Growth. Source: Bloomberg|
|IPO Spree in Karachi Stock Market. Source: Bloomberg|
|Covid19 Cases in Pakistan. Source: Our World in Data|
|Pakistan Monthly Quantum Index of Manufacturing. Source: PBS|
Pakistan is once again experiencing a construction boom with new incentives under Naya Pakistan Housing Program. Monthly cement sales rose to near all-time high of almost 5 million tons in July 2020 as construction activity picked up in both housing and CPEC-related projects.
|Pakistan Cement Sales. Source: Bloomberg|
Gasoline sales in June, 2020 hit new record and local car deliveries rose to about 10,000 units as people returned to work after easing of lockdown in May, 2020. Kia Motors Corp.’s local unit is planning to add a second shift at its factory in Karachi from January.
|Pakistan Car Sales Recovery. Source: Bloomberg|
Multiple Sectors Growing:
Sectors including food, beverages & tobacco, coke & petroleum products, pharmaceuticals and non metallic mineral products saw an increase in production in July 2020. Muzzammil Aslam, chief executive officer at Tangent Capital Advisors Pvt., was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “It has surprised everybody". Aslam expects Pakistan economy at 4%-5% in current fiscal year, higher than the government’s 2.1% target. “The growth is led by an aggregate demand push.”
Pakistanis have defied all foreign and domestic doomsayers, including media, activists and think tanks of all varieties. Pakistan has successfully fought off the deadly COVID19 virus and begun to bounce back economically. With several major brands moving production to Pakistan, the country's exports are rebounding faster than its peers in South Asia. Moody's rating agency has raised Pakistan's economic outlook from "under review for downgrade" to "stable". Pakistan's Planning Minister Asad Umar is talking of a "V-shaped recovery". Monthly cement sales have rebounded to pre-pandemic level, fuel sales have increased, tax collection is up, exports are rising and the Karachi stock market is booming again. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Javed Bajwa have been on the same page in tackling the health and economic crises faced by Pakistan. Contrary to the critics of Pakistan's civil-military ties, Khan-Bajwa cooperation has been one of the keys to the country's success in dealing with the twin crises.
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The most recent exports are led by House Linens ($3.5B), Rice ($1.98B), Non-Knit Men's Suits ($1.62B), Non-Retail Pure Cotton Yarn ($1.25B), and Heavy Pure Woven Cotton ($989M). The most common destination for the exports of Pakistan are United States ($3.52B), China ($1.95B), Germany ($1.78B), Afghanistan ($1.67B), and United Kingdom ($1.62B).
COVID19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in global supply chains. The fact that Pakistan emerged from it earlier than others has created an opportunity for Pakistani garment manufacturers. Several major brands are now sourcing from Pakistan
A meeting of the Ministry of Commerce was held on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood to review the country import-export trends.
The meeting was informed that as per the provisional trade data for the month of October 2020, the country’s exports increased 2.1pc to $2,066 million as compared to $2,024 million in October 2019. On the import side, the country witnessed a contraction of 10.3pc, as imports fell from $4,074 million in October 2019 to $3,653 million in October 2020.
Based on the import-export data, Pakistan’s trade deficit shrank 22.6pc ($1,587 million) in October 2020, showing an improvement of $463 million over the same month of last year.
The adviser was briefed that during the July-October FY21 period, exports decreased marginally by 0.1pc. The exports during this period stood at $7,540 million as compared to $7,547 million in July-Oct FY20.
During the period under review, the country’s balance of trade declined 4.5pc to $7,424, as compared to $7,776 million last year.
The advisor expressed satisfaction at the export trends and praised Pakistani exporters for bringing the exports back to pre-Covid levels despite uncertainty and contraction in the country’s major markets.
Meanwhile, the meeting was also briefed on the trends of major exportable products. It was informed that during July-October FY21, an increase in export volume was witnessed mostly in the value added sectors. These included home textiles (10.0pc), women garments (20.8pc), jerseys & pullovers (35.3pc), made-up articles of textile (10.4pc), stockings & socks (19.2pc), cement (10.8pc), pharmaceutics (26.8pc), tarpaulins (66.8pc), and made-up clothing accessories (245.2pc).
On the other hand, exports in the non-value added sectors recorded a decrease during July-October FY21; cotton fabric (-8.0pc), cotton yarn (-40.1pc), worn clothing (-63.6pc), raw leather (-38.4pc), crude petroleum (-53.7pc), and cotton (-95.7pc).
The meeting was further briefed on the geographical spread and growth of exports. As compared to the same period last year, Pakistan’s top five growing markets during July-October FY21 remained Indonesia (39.3pc), Qatar (34.5pc), Denmark (24.9pc), S Korea (22.5pc) and Afghanistan (15.6pc).
The advisor hoped that Pakistan’s economy would continue with its upward recovery trend and directed the ministry officials to proactively facilitate exporters and businessmen. “No stone be left unturned to counter the effect of the second wave of Covid-19 in the country’s major markets.”
I am glad to note that our exports of Telecommunication & IT Services have done very well during the period Jul-Sep of this Financial Year (FY). The exports have grown by 41% to USD 444 million as compared to USD 315 million in the corresponding period in the last FY. https://twitter.com/razak_dawood/status/1323585594354786304?s=20
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LAST YEAR Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signed his name on the 2018 Farm Bill using a pen made of hemp. Among other initiatives, the bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances list, where it had languished since 1970. To address the elephant in the article: Hemp is not marijuana, its THC-potent sibling. It’s a perfectly respectable (read: non-high inducing) plant that produces fibers for textiles, plastics, paper and a host of other products. The passing of the Farm Bill is the surest sign yet that hemp has shed its headshop connotations and entered the mainstream. Included in that transformation is its legitimacy as a valid, even desirable, fabric for modern clothing.
According to many designers and fans, hemp is an eco-friendly alternative to cotton, requiring less water to produce and regenerating at a far more rapid rate. It is also a suitable summer-weight substitute for wrinkle-prone linen. “Everyone walks up to it and is like, ‘Oh my God, this is linen,’” said Ally Ferguson, the owner of Seeker, a 2-year-old hemp-based label in Los Angeles. Her brand’s lightweight trousers and jackets (made from imported hemp) have a clean, almost Scandinavian aesthetic, one that calls to mind a minimal urban coffee shop, not Woodstock. “When people look at it they’re like, ‘It’s not really hippie or crunchy. That’s super clean and I want to wear that.’”
‘As evidenced by its nautical uses, hemp is impressively durable.’
As evidenced by its nautical uses since at least the Viking era, hemp is impressively durable. Companies like Patagonia and Levi’s are exploiting this quality by fashioning the material into hardy work trousers and jeans. “It was the original sail cloth, so it’s really resistant to ripping and pulling,” said Antonio Ciongoli, the designer of 18 East, a New York label that made all of its lightweight summer sweaters from Italian hemp this year. He also focused on hemp because it doesn’t crumple like linen, the more common choice for an airy knit. “The fibers are really strong,” noted Mr. Ciongoli. You can stuff a hemp sweater in your suitcase or wear it on a hot day without being subjected to unsightly puckering.
Though it has clear aesthetic and ecological advantages, hemp fiber is not readily available on a large scale here in America. Jeffrey Silberman, a professor and chairperson of textile development at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, stated that it takes a specific type of processing equipment to turn hemp into a fiber, and that type of machinery is still scarce. “New York state doesn’t have the processing equipment for it, at least as far as I can tell. I haven’t found a spinning mill that can handle hemp,” he said. Nonetheless, universities in New York and North Carolina are working on America’s hemp development, and Mr. Silberman predicts that hemp’s rehabbed reputation will make it a closet staple soon enough. “It’s not scratchy anymore and it’s not based on a five pointed leaf,” he said. “It’s based on its being a real fiber that can make a real fabric.”
“SDIC will continue to deepen cooperation in important fields and key industries with partners both at home and abroad, so as to share opportunities brought by the CIIE, go hand in hand and contribute to the promotion of global economic development and regional economic and trade exchanges,” he added.
Meanwhile, the first batch of cherries is expected to be exported from Pakistan to China next year, said Li Wei, business representative of Huazhilong International Trading Private Ltd. Pakistan.
“Pakistani cherries are really good, including sweetness and quality. China can provide technical assistance to manage orchards, while Pakistan can provide workers, so that both sides can achieve win-win cooperation,” he said in an interview with the CEN at the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) being held in east China’s Shanghai.
Previously, media reported that export of Pakistani cherries has been hindered by cold chain management, market information system, packaging and processing facilities.
Li Wei said that to tackle the problem of cherry fruit fly, 60-70 degree hot water bath treatment and the following cold storage is a solution. Now as cold chain technology lags behind in Pakistan, we will develop it and strive to solve it next year.
Referring to why he embarked on export business of agricultural products from Pakistan, Li Wei said the general manager of the company visited Pakistan by chance and found that there was a great business opportunity for the export of agricultural products from Pakistan to China.
Therefore, in the second half of 2018, 24 tons of mango were exported from Pakistan to China and sold out in Xinfadi, a large wholesale market of fruits, vegetables, and meat for Beijing. “It was the first to enter Beijing by air cargo transport from Lahore.” This year, the company was officially registered in Pakistan.
According to Li Wei, Pakistani mango is comparable to those from Australia and the Philippines. Although the price is more expensive than domestic mango, Pakistani mango is better in terms of variety, appearance, quality, among others. The sugar content of ripe mango can reach 22.68%. “It tastes best at 75% – 80% maturity,” he added.
There is seasonal difference in the marketing of Pakistani mango in China. “The mango season in Pakistan starts from August 20 to November 20, while there are almost no mangoes in southern China in November. Pakistani mango can extend the mango season by two months compared with Chinese mango. It has a time advantage,” Li Wei explained.
The mango orchard adopts the cooperation mode between China and Pakistan. “Chinese side provides technology and sends technical staff in fields of inorganic fertilizer, bagging, picking, disinfection, transportation, while Pakistani side provides labor. Finally, through cross-border e-commerce air transportation, Chinese customers can eat fresh mango within a week after placing an order,” he added.
If the pandemic improves next year, China will import large quantities of Pakistani mangoes. On the development of high value-added mango products, he said that in the next step, they may cooperate with domestic snack manufacturers to produce dried mango products.
Regarding the other potential agricultural products in Pakistan, Li Jinhuan, Executive Director of Huazhilong International Trading Private Ltd. Pakistan, said that besides mango, the company also exports other Pakistani agricultural products such as cotton, Morchella, rice and corn. “We have received orders for Morchella from China before. Similar to fungus, Morchella is also a kind of medicinal material. It is scarce in China, with large demand and high price. Although the Morchella output in Pakistan is low and it’s difficult to buy, the price is much lower than that in China,” Li Jinhuan added.
Car sales in Pakistan rose 25 per cent to 11,997 units in October 2020, as against the sale of 9,566 units in October 2019, according to data released by the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturing Association (PAMA) on Wednesday.
Cumulatively, the sale of cars increased 8pc YoY to 43,865 units during the first four months (July-Oct) of the current fiscal year (2020-21), as against 40,583 units in same period of last year.
As per the data, the sale of Honda cars (Civic and City) increased sharply by 80pc, from 1,032 units in October 2019 to 1,858 units. The sale of Toyota Corolla, however, registered a decrease of 33pc, from 1,982 units to 1,314 units in Oct 2020.
During the month under review, the sale of Suzuki Swift increased 19pc to 180 units (151 units in Oct 2019), while that of Suzuki Wagon-R surged 70pc to 1,198 units (530 units in Oct last year).
On the other hand, the sale of Suzuki Alto plummeted to 2,893 units in Oct 2020 from 4,048 units last year, showing a decline of 48.5pc. The sale of Suzuki Cultus also declined by 30pc to 816 units in Oct 2020 from 1,179 units in Oct last year.
The newly launched Toyota Yaris witnessed a sale of 3,058 units in Oct 2020 as compared to the sale of 2,421 units in September 2020, showing an increase of 26.3pc on a monthly basis.
Meanwhile, the sale of motorcycles and three-wheelers jumped from 156,872 units in Oct 2019 to 175,294 units in Oct 2020, showing a rise of 11.7pc.
These firms took the lead where revenues were up 39pc YoY as compared to -64pc YoY in 2Q2020 mainly due to increase in volumetric sales given (1) pent-up demand from previous quarter amidst Covid-19 lockdown and (2) low-interest rates, Topline securities stated.
Total Car and Pak Elektron Limited (PAEL’s) appliances sales increased by 8pc YoY & 30pc YoY, respectively in 3Q2020.
The overall gross margins for this segment increased by 1.98ppts YoY to 8.1pc, led by Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited (PSMC) +6.06ppts and followed by Thal Limited (THALL) +5.39ppts. Margins of all others in this segment were down in the range of 0.2ppts YoY to 3.63ppts YoY.
Sales of Pharmaceuticals’ segment witnessed an improvement of 26pc YoY mainly due to resumption in OPDs and regular health care services, which were halted due to the risk of patients getting infected by Covid-19.
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) +35pc YoY and GlaxoSmithKline Pakistan Limited (GLAXO) +32pc YoY led sales increase.
Topline Securities stated that all our sample companies in the pharmaceuticals segment reported a decline in gross margins, with the exception of Abbott Laboratories (Pakistan) Limited (ABOT), which reported increase of 10.7ppts YoY to 35pc from 25pc mainly due to better sales mix i.e. increase in high margin nutrition segment sales.
A notable decline in gross margins within pharmaceuticals’ was witnessed in (1) GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) -4.9ppts YoY due to adverse sales mix and procurement of raw material at higher prices and (2) AGP Limited (AGP) -4.8ppts YoY amid one-off provisioning of Covid-19 testing kits.
The sales for this segment increased by 23pc YoY. All companies within the staples segment reported increase in sales except for Bata Pakistan Limited (BATA) -13% YoY due to lower volumetric sales as educational institutions opened after Sep 15, 2020 in phased manner.
Notable increase in sales was witnessed in Unity Foods Limited (UNITY) +176pc YoY due to addition of new product lines along with capacity expansion.
Gross margins of consumer staple companies were up by 0.86ppts YoY to 27.8pc during 3Q2020.
Overall profitability of consumer companies was up by 41pc QoQ led by Consumer Discretionary firms again which turned in profits of Rs4,105mn in 3Q2020 as compared to losses of Rs1,479mn in 2Q2020.
According to Topline Securities, Overall sales during 3Q2020 increased by 37pc QoQ mainly due to increase in revenues of Consumer Discretionary +144pc QoQ amid higher volumetric sales driven by pent-up demand and low interest rates.
Turnover of Pharmaceuticals’ and Consumer Staples firms were also up by 14pc QoQ and 7pc QoQ, respectively.
The overall gross margins were down by 3.7ppts QoQ to 21.1pc amidst Pak Rupee devaluation by 2pc QoQ which the companies were unable to immediately pass on to the final consumers, the Topline securities said.
Large scale manufacturing (LSM) continues to rebound, expanding by 4.8 percent (y/y) in FY21 Q1, against a contraction of 5.5 percent in the same quarter last year. Nine out of fifteen major manufacturing sectors have shown gains, including textiles, food and beverages, petroleum products, paper and board, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, cement, fertilizer, and rubber products. The MPC noted that the recovery was being supported by stimulus provided by the government, the round of policy rate cuts and the SBP’s timely measures to mitigate the impact of the COVID pandemic.
These measures included principal extension and loan restructuring, payroll financing, and Temporary Economic Refinance Facility (TERF) which injected liquidity, reduced layoffs and provided incentives for investment. In agriculture, the impact of the expected decline in cotton production is likely to be offset by growth in other major crops and higher wheat production due to the rise in support prices and recently announced subsidies on fertilizers and pesticides. While social distancing continues to weigh more heavily on certain parts of the services sector, wholesale and retail trade and transportation are expected to benefit from the knock-on impacts of the ongoing pick-up in construction, manufacturing and agriculture.
The external sector continues to strengthen, with the current account in FY 21 Q1 recording the first quarterly surplus in more than five years. After remaining in positive territory for all four months of this fiscal year, the cumulative current account through October reached a surplus of $1.2 billion against a deficit of $1.4 billion in the same period last year. This turnaround was supported by an improvement in the trade balance and record remittances.
As per SBP, exports have recovered to their pre-COVID monthly level of around $2 billion in September and October, with the strongest recovery in textiles, rice, cement, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
Remittances recorded strong growth of 26.5 percent (y/y) during July-October, primarily due to orderly exchange rate conditions, supportive policy measures taken by the government and SBP, travel restrictions, and increased use of formal channels. Meanwhile, subdued domestic demand and low global oil prices have kept imports in check.
The sizable current account surplus and improving outlook and sentiment for the economy have supported a 3½ percent appreciation in the PKR since the last MPC and further strengthened external buffers, with SBP’s foreign exchange reserves increasing to $12.9 billion, their highest level since February 2018.
Based on the performance to date, the outlook for the external sector has improved further and the current account deficit for FY21 is now projected to be below 2 percent of GDP.
In line with this year’s budget, the government continues to make concerted efforts to maintain fiscal discipline, including adhering to its commitment of no fresh borrowing from SBP. Despite lower non-tax revenue, the primary balance posted a surplus of 0.6 percent of GDP in FY21 Q1, similar to the levels achieved during the same period last year. However, the higher overall budget deficit due to larger domestic interest payments should taper as the benefits of recent interest rate cuts filter through. PSDP-releases, which are an important stimulant of economic activity, recorded an increase of 12.8 percent (y/y) during the first four months of this year.
Pakistan’s exports grew for the third consecutive month in November to $2.161 billion, up 7.67 per cent from $2.007bn in the corresponding month last year, data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday.
The increase in exports is mainly driven by double-digit growth in proceeds from textile and non-textile commodities. Meanwhile, during the month under review, imports also increased 7pc leading to a slight increase in trade deficit.
Data showed a significant growth has been seen in the exports of home textiles (20pc), pharmaceutical products (20pc), rice (14pc), surgical goods (11pc), stockings & socks (41pc), jerseys & pullovers (21pc), women’s garments (11pc) and men’s garments (4.3pc), as compared to Nov 2019.
Between July to November, exports slightly increased by 2.11pc to $9.737bn, from $9.536bn over the corresponding months of last year.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD
Exports in the new fiscal year started on a positive note but witnessed a steep decline of 19pc in August before rebounding in September, October, and November.
To promote exports of textile products, the Ministry of Commerce on Friday released Rs1.78bn for the textiles sector under Drawback of Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL) scheme. “I hope this will resolve the liquidity issues of our exporters and enable them to enhance exports”, said Adviser to PM on Commerce and Textile Razak Dawood.
He said the DLTL for non-textile sector are also being released shortly. Razak also disclosed that the export of animal casings from Pakistan to Japan has resumed after a ban of four years. “I commend the efforts made by our trade section in Tokyo. I advise our trade missions to actively engage with importers,” he said.
“I urge exporters to take benefit of this opportunity and move full speed ahead”, the adviser added.
In FY20, exports fell by 6.83pc or $1.57bn to $21.4bn, compared to $22.97bn the previous year. Data shows visible improvements in export orders from international buyers, mainly in the textile and clothing sectors since May.
On the other hand, imports also rose by 7.77pc in November to $4.229bn, as against $3.924bn over the corresponding month of last year. During 5MFY20, the overall import bill slightly increased by 1.29pc to $19.422bn, up from $19.175bn over the corresponding months of last year.
The continuous decline in imports has provided some breathing space to the government in managing external accounts despite a downward trend in exports. However, imports are now expected to increase further in the coming months following the abolishment of regulatory duty on imports of raw materials and semi-finished products.
In FY20, the import bill witnessed a steep decline of $10.29bn or 18.78pc to $44.509bn, compared to $54.799bn in the previous year.
The country’s trade deficit also went up by 7.88pc in November, mainly due to a growth in imports proceeds. In absolute terms, the trade gap stood at $2.068bn, as compared to $1.917bn over the corresponding month of last year.
In the first five months, the trade deficit edged up 0.48pc to $9.685bn, as against $9.639bn over the last year. During FY20, it narrowed to $23.099bn, from $31.820bn.
The Large-Scale Manufacturing (LSM) sector registered a cumulative growth of 5.5% in July-October of current fiscal year, reported the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Tuesday.
October was the second successive month when the index grew over the previous month, raising hopes that the momentum could continue in the midst of the second wave of Covid-19 in Pakistan.
Out of 15 major industries, nine sectors again recorded a surge in production while output of six industries contracted in the first four months of current fiscal year compared to the same period of previous year, according to the PBS.
The government expects 2.5% contraction in the LSM sector in the current fiscal year, according to the Annual Plan 2020-21 released by the Ministry of Planning and Development on the eve of federal budget. But the Ministry of Finance’s estimates suggest that instead of contraction, the LSM sector may grow 1.4% in the fiscal year.
Because of better-than-expected output in the industrial and agriculture sectors, the Ministry of Finance now expects economic growth to remain in the range of 2.6% to 2.8% in the current fiscal year - better than the official target of 2.1%. The industrial sector, which was earlier projected to grow only 0.1% by the government, may now grow at a rate of 2.1%.
LSM recorded 6.7% year-on-year growth in October but the index was still below pre-coronavirus level of 160.2 points recorded in March this year.
On a yearly basis, the petroleum sector contracted 0.1% in October over the same month of previous year. Provincial bureaus also reported a nominal growth of less than 1% in 11 industries. On a month-on-month basis, the LSM sector showed 3.4% growth in October over September.
Prime Minister Imran Khan won the July 2018 elections on the promise of creating 10 million jobs and constructing five million homes at affordable prices but the promises have remain unfulfilled so far. With the current sluggish economic growth, there will be increase in poverty and unemployment in the remaining tenure of the government.
Pakistan needs 6-7% annual economic growth to reduce poverty and unemployment, according to independent economic experts.
Data collected by the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) showed that 11 types of industries registered an average growth of just 0.1% in the first four months of current fiscal year.
The Ministry of Industries, which monitors 15 industries, reported 3.7% growth in the LSM output. Provincial bureaus reported a growth of 1.6% in 11 industries in four months, according to the PBS.
Sectors that posted growth during the July-October period included textile that grew 2.2% and non-metallic mineral products that soared 22.9%.
However, the output of power looms slumped 41.7% in four months, contrary to the media hype generated about utilisation of power looms at full capacity.
The fertiliser sector grew 6% whereas the food, beverages and tobacco group expanded 12.2% in the four-month period under review.
The manufacturing of chemical products increased 9.2%, paper and board 10.4% and rubber products 3.3%. The pharmaceutical sector registered a growth of 13.5% in the July-October period. Output of the coke and petroleum sector increased 1.6%.
Industries that registered a dip in manufacturing included the automobile sector, which saw a contraction of 1.6% but the pace of negative growth slowed down.
Iron and steel production fell 5.4%, electronics 23%, leather products 43%, engineering products 34% and wood products 64% during the July-October period.
In November, export proceeds were up by 9.27pc from a year ago. In October, export proceeds were up by 6.18pc and in September, they grew by 11.03pc while a decline of 15pc was recorded in August.
In the first month of the current fiscal year, exports recorded a robust increase of 14.4pc on a year-on-year basis. The rebound in exports of textile and clothing is the outcome of a series of incentives to support exporters to meet the challenges in the wake of the pandemic and disruption in supplies.
The demand for country’s exports had collapsed in months following March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while there has been a gradual improvement since June from international buyers.
Adviser to PM on Commerce in a tweet said that in November, the exports of cotton yarn declined by 25pc, raw leather by 21pc, and cotton fabric by 12.2pc. “This is an indication that exports of low value-added products are decreasing and we are moving towards more value-added exports”, he said while adding that “I urge our exporters to keep pursuing this policy.”
The PBS data showed that ready-made garment exports edged up by 4.36pc in value while plunging in quantity by 44.64pc during July to November this year from a year ago. Exports of knitwear increased by 14.34pc in value and 32.35pc in quantity; bedwear exports were up 12.28pc while dipped 7.95pc in quantity.
Towel exports went up 14.24pc in value and 3.79pc in quantity, whereas those of cotton cloth dipped 8.73pc and 31.78pc in quantity.
Among primary commodities, cotton yarn exports plunged by 37.34pc, yarn other than cotton by 16.69pc, made-up articles — excluding towels — was up 15.53pc and tents, canvas and tarpaulin increased by a massive 58.05pc during the months under review.
Textile machinery imports dropped by 6.07pc during the first five months of current fiscal year — a sign that no expansion or modernisation projects were taken up by the industry in the given period.
Petroleum imports declined 22.78pc in the first five months (July-November) to $3.94bn, compared to $5.11bn over the last year, the PBS data showed.
Of these, petroleum product imports were down 16.51pc in value in the first five months’ despite increasing by 54.42pc in quantity. Similarly, import of crude oil dipped 27.01pc in value, but posted a growth of 14.78pc in quantity during the period under review while those of liquefied natural gas fell by 34.73pc in value. On the other hand, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) imports jumped 52.06pc in value in July-Nov, largely to plug a shortfall in local production.
Machinery imports went down 5.78pc to $3.37bn in the first five months from $3.58bn last year. The decline in imports was recorded in almost all kinds of machinery except power generating machinery, office machinery and mobile phones.
The power generating machinery imports went up 21.73pc in the first five months mainly due to revival of power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and office machinery increased by 0.7pc during the months under review.
In the telecommunication sector, imports surged by 31.32pc on the back of mobile handsets arrivals which were up by 45.26pc. This was the result of a crackdown on smuggling and doing away with free imports in baggage schemes. Import of other apparatus fell by 6.39pc.
The overall transport group witnessed a growth of 13.92pc. This growth was mainly driven by an increase in imports of road motor vehicles (build unit, CKD/SKD) and CBU during the months under review.
An increase of 60.36pc was seen in imports of textile group — raw cotton, synthetic and artificial silk yarn.
Pakistan’s top economic decision-making body, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), is expected to approve a new five-year textile policy this week, with incentives worth more than Rs900 billion ($5.6 billion) for the industry and an aim to increase exports to $21 billion in five years, officials have said.
Textiles make up more than half of Pakistan’s exports, but have lost ground to South Asian neighbors in recent years, hurt by chronic energy shortages and underinvestment in machinery.
But this year, after Pakistan lifted its comprehensive coronavirus lockdown in May while other countries in the neighborhood kept their economies closed, international textile orders have been diverted to Pakistan, leading to a nine-year record in exports. The South Asian nation has now drafted a new policy to augment the gains, officials say.
“The textile policy has already been approved by the prime minister, which will be presented in the ECC next week,” Aliya Hamza Malik, parliamentary secretary for commerce, told Arab News. “After ECC approval, the policy would be a pubic document,” she added, saying the government of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had granted Rs900 billion ($5.6 billion) in incentives to the textile sector in the new policy, the country’s third.
The textile industry, which comprises 46 percent of the total manufacturing sector and provides employment to around 25 million Pakistanis, contributes 8.5 percent to the GDP, according to the Pakistan Board of Investment. It also contributes 60 percent to overall exports and is one of the major earners of foreign exchange for Pakistan.
Despite a global economic slowdown due to COVID-19, Pakistan’s textile sector reached $6 billion exports in the first five months of current fiscal year (July-November 2020), which is 62 percent of total exports (worth $9.7 billion) and almost 5 percent higher compared to the same period last year, official data shows.
“Incentives and export facilitations have played a big role in making Pakistan a competitive exporting country,” Malik said.
The new measures aim to increase textile exports from $12.86 billion to $21 billion in the next five years, with a major focus on value addition, a draft of the policy seen by Arab News said. The document said electricity would be provided to the industry at the rate of US cents 7.5/kWh, RLNG at $6.5/MMBtu and system gas at Rs 786/MMBtu under the new policy.
The last two textile policies, for 2009-14 and 2014-19, had aimed to up exports to $25 billion and $26 billion respectively but the targets were not achieved. The third policy was approved in March this year but still awaits official announcement.
Bangladesh is notable in South Asia for being the closest proxy for the successful development models seen at various stages in South Korea, China and Vietnam. Export-led development has the best modern track record of moving countries from very low income levels into middle-income status.
Bangladesh’s exports have risen by around 80% in dollar terms in the past decade, driven by the booming garment industry, while India and Pakistan’s exports have actually declined marginally.
There are other factors in the country’s favor as far as its development model goes: a very young demographic structure, a continued competitive edge in terms of wage levels, strong and rising female labor-force participation especially relative to the rest of South Asia.
There are some meaningful potential hindrances, however. For one, Bangladeshi export growth is well below that of Vietnamor Cambodia, where exports have more than tripled and more than doubled respectively over the past 10 years. India’s exports boomed in the early 2000s and then stagnated, so a continued upward trend isn’t guaranteed.
The next step for Bangladesh would be to transition toward higher-value forms of manufacturing and exporting, as Vietnam has done. Its export industry is still overwhelmingly focused on garment manufacturing. The country’s economic complexity, ranked by Harvard University’s Growth Lab, is 108 out of the 133 countries measured. That is actually lower than it was in 1995.
Bangladesh also finds itself, like India, outside of major Asian trade blocs. It isn’t a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. Diversifying its manufacturing exports would require greater participation in intra-Asian supply chains—and probably a closer economic relationship with its neighbors to the east.
Caveats aside, Bangladesh’s exit from LDC status is probably a sign of further progress ahead—and a shot across the bow of other South Asian neighbors taking a very different approach to development.