Pakistan's Tech Exports Exceed $1.5 Billion in First 9 Months of Fiscal Year 2020-21

Pakistan's technology exports are continuing their growth trajectory, soaring 44% in the first 9 months (July-March) of the current fiscal year 2020-21 to reach $1.512 billion. March 2021 saw record exports of $3.2 billion with goods worth $2.612 billion and services worth $564 million exported during the month.  

Pakistan Exports July20-Mar21. Source: State Bank of Pakistan

Tech exports accelerated 55% in the month of March 2021 to reach monthly record $213 million ,according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan.
Pakistan's Monthly IT Exports. Source: Pakistonomy

Information technology development depends mostly on available talent. Pakistan has seen significant increase in technology manpower since the massive expansion of higher education initiated by Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman and backed by huge increase in funding provided by President Pervez Musharraf's government. 

Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and degree awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014. Pakistan now boasts 220 universities with 40,000 faculty members and 1.5 million students, according to Dr. Javaid Laghari, former chairman of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. 

Pakistan is now producing over 25,000 information technology graduates annually, according to the Punjab IT minister Mian Aslam Iqbal. He says Pakistan has more than 2,000 IT companies and call centers, and 300,000 English speaking IT professionals. Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) says there are 2,826 IT companies have registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) during this financial year alone. Dr. Umar Saif, ex chairman of the Punjab IT Board,  has told the media that the Indian IT exports stood at $100 billion, which is 30 times Pakistan's which he believes are actually closer to $3.5 billion, near double the figure reported by the State Bank of Pakistan. “This is because the Indian IT industry employs over 4.5 million people as compared to Pakistan which has only 125,000 persons in this sector.”  

Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets, reports  Payoneer, a global payments platform company based in Silicon Valley, in its latest report. Payoneer attributes it to government programs such as Punjab government's e Rozgaar program that has been offering free online courses in digital freelancing. The sudden rush to learn skills online boosted the demand for instructors. The Pakistan government filled this demand by hiring alumni of programs like e Rozgaar who were successfully participating in the gig economy.

Punjab government's e-rozgaar program logo

After a brief dip in January 2020, the demand for freelancers took off in February and increased by double digits each month starting in March until June when it surged 47% at the time the data was compiled by Payoneer for its report.“ Likewise, this response is reflected in the revenue figures where freelancing continued to grow year-on-year but temporarily slowing from 21 per cent growth in March to 16 per cent growth in May,” the report noted. e-Rozgaar’s latest group of graduates earned the highest ever income for a new class of the program--earning over Rs. 25 million in three months during the Covid-19 lockdown. PITB Chairman Azfar Manzoor told Profit magazine that e-Rozgaar was playing a pivotal role in curbing youth unemployment. 

Online Freelance Revenue Surge in Pakistan. Source: Payoneer

“One factor that goes a long way to explain this is that in April, local government authorities took the initiative to rapidly shut down educational institutes as a way to contain the spread of the virus,” the report said, adding that this led to the development of a new online education system and as part of this initiative, government training programs, such as e-Rozgaar, expanded its services throughout the country, offering people a new way to enhance their professional capabilities. “The mission was to help expedite freelancing skills for thousands and enable them to earn a living in the most in-demand fields and ultimately lead to a higher employment rate,” the report highlighted.

A global survey conducted by Payoneer, shows that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers. Digital gig economy is not only helping women earn more than men but it is also reducing barriers to women's labor force participation in the country. The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in the growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015.

Freelancers Hourly Rate by Gender. Source: Payoneer

An average Pakistani freelancer working 34 hours a week at $20 an hour earns $34,000 a year, or Rs. 5.7 million a year, a small fortune for a young Pakistani. This is one of the upsides of the online global labor market for skilled young men and women in developing nations like Pakistan. Sometimes freelancing experience leads to tech startups in Pakistan.

Another interesting survey finding is that freelancers with a university degree earn about 10% less on average than those with just the high-school diploma. This indicates that the freelancers skills matter more than the level of formal education.

Average Hourly Rate by Education. Source: Payoneer

Payoneer surveyed 23,000 freelancers worldwide, including emerging markets such as Pakistan, the Philippines and the Ukraine. Survey respondents comprise a random sample of Payoneer’s cross-border payment platform users, providing unique insights into how these globally-enabled freelancers operate, what makes them successful and what rates they command.

Freelancers Average Work Week. Source: Payoneer 

Pakistani freelancers worked about 34 hours a week, a little less than the 36 hours global average. Indian freelancers log 37.4 hours a week and Bangladeshis 35.9 hours weekly. Freelancers from Kenya average the highest amount of hours per week (42.6) with Egypt coming in second (38.5). Professionals working in Morocco and Tunisia work the fewest hours per week, potentially as a high percentage of them are also working at companies as well

Pakistan's digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.

Gig Economy Growth in Q2/2019. Source: Payoneer
United States led gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India  (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).

The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan  was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access.  Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.

Growth in Freelance Work. Source: Payoneer

Mohsin Muzaffar, head of business development at Payoneer in Pakistan, has said as follows: "Government investment in enhancing digital skills has helped create a skilled freelancer workforce while blanket 4G coverage across Pakistan has given freelancers unprecedented access to
international jobs".

Global Freelance Revenue By Age. Source: Payoneer. 

In Q2/2019, Asia cemented its status as a freelancer hub.  Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Philippines made it to the  top 10 list, collectively recording 238% increase from Q2/2018.

Online Labor Index. Source: Oxford Internet Institute

Pakistan technology exports are on a rapid growth trajectory, thanks to the investment made in education during Musharraf years. Pakistan is now producing over 20,000 information technology graduates annually, according to the Punjab IT minister Mian Aslam Iqbal. He says Pakistan has more than 2,000 IT companies and call centers, and 300,000 English speaking IT professionals. 

Silicon Valley based global payments platform Payoneer has reported that Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets. A global survey results on freelancing show that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers.   The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015. As of 2017, Pakistan freelancers ranked fourth in the world and accounted for 8.5% of the global online workforce, according to Online Labor Index compiled by Oxford Internet Institute. India led with 24% share followed by Bangladesh 16%, US 12%, Pakistan 8.5% and Philippines 6.5%.

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Riaz Haq said…
Similar to the textile sector, Covid-19 proved to be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan’s technology exports as well given that IT exports soared 58% during March 2021 against the corresponding period of last year.

Information technology (IT) exports touched $213 million last month, stated a report from Arif Habib Limited.

Moreover, technology products worth $1.512 billion were exported during the first nine months of fiscal year 2020-21, contributing 35% to the overall services exports and reporting a 44% year-on-year jump, revealed the data.

“The government should focus on technology sector as it has massive potential for exports,” said Arif Habib Limited Head of Research Tahir Abbas in comments to The Express Tribune.

Insight Securities analyst Muhammad Ahmed attributed the increase in exports to Covid induced surge in freelancing activities.

Read: Turkey keen to expand ties in IT sector

According to him, fair value of rupee against the US dollar was a huge factor driving the surge in exports alongside divergence of inflows through legal channels following suspensions of flights over the globe.

The efforts of the government to document the IT sector by offering tax credit of around 80% of export revenue helped raise technology exports, he said.

Systems Limited, one of the largest IT services and products exporters listed on Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), recently posted all-time high yearly revenue of Rs10 billion and reported a profit of Rs2.1 billion.

“The firm surpassed our estimates for revenue by 2% and for profit by 8% which is mainly attributable to better receivables management,” said Ahmed.

Systems Limited sustained growth momentum by posting 22% revenue growth in dollar terms in calendar year 2020, he said.

The newly added European region contributes 8% to company’s revenue that jumped by 74% in a year.

Read more: Expanding narrow IT export base

The construction of planned Special Technology Zones (STZs) are expected to provide a conducive environment to IT companies as they will help enhancing quality competition, he said.

The pandemic has unleashed Pakistani companies’ ability to perform off-site jobs seamlessly.

Although 58% growth is huge growth for a Pakistani enterprise, global technology companies manifest growth amounting to 100%, 200% or 300% therefore, there is a lot of room for improvement.

In the last five years, technology companies in Pakistan have witnessed growth of 30-50%, experts say.

They highlighted that the government could invest in infrastructure as well as human development.

Industry sources say that out of the bulk of the IT graduates produced by Pakistani universities, only 40% are trained to serve the export industry.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #economy heading in right direction, says #IMF's Teresa Sanchez. "The government took bold steps to protect the country from bankruptcy and helped the lockdown-bruised economy recover from the slump in first phase of Covid-19 critical situation"

International Monetary Fund’s Resident Chief Teresa Daban Sanchez Sunday believed that despite the testing times, Pakistan’s economy is heading towards the right direction as the government’s extensive measures have helped it move progressively.

“The government took bold steps to protect the country from bankruptcy and helped the lockdown-bruised economy recover from the slump in first phase of Covid-19 critical situation,” she said while speaking to a private news channel.

She said that Pakistan was performing well under the IMF program during the pre-COVID-19 situation. She said that Pakistan’s GDP growth rate would turn into shrinking and negative mode for the current fiscal because of COVID-19 situation.

Pakistan would have to utilise an additional funds from its budget because of corona virus, adding, IMF was quite happy the way Pakistan was implementing different policies to achieve fiscal consolidation and would continue to provide its support to the country to face the socio-economic challenges posed by Covid-19. She also emphasised for recalibration of reforms as well as increase in revenue collection, ambitious tax policy reforms and broad base fiscal structural reforms are the need of hour.

She suggested that it will be better if the opposition sits with the government, current policies of the country need to be adjusted with reality and if there is any need in the third wave, then the IMF program will be adjusted accordingly.

She also stressed on reforms that have been recommended and are necessary for the help of the poor and vulnerable.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #wheat production this year may surpass previous records with a big margin, crossing 28.75 million tons, two million tons more than the previous record of 26.67 million tons set in 2016/17 #food #agriculture #economy #COVID19 #pandemic

If this feat is achieved, Pakistan may not require further imports at least in considerable quantities. Owing to last two back-to-back failures of crops, Pakistan had to import over two million tons during the last one year to meet shortfall in grain production. These reports are, however, in complete contrast to what federal government projected about the grain output. While reviewing performance of the rabi crops (2020/21) last week, the Federal Committee on Agricutlure estimated wheat production at 26.04 million tons, showing an increase of 1.7 percent over the last year.

In Punjab, having share of around 75 percent in total production, wheat harvest may hover around 21.75 million this year, if present trend in early harvesting is something to go by. Official circles also lately voiced a significant upsurge in wheat output, at least in the Punjab.

According to a senior official of provincial Agriculture Department, more than 35 maund (40kg each) per acre average output is recorded in the crop cut samples. This is more than the 30 maunds average per acre output of wheat in the province. To have an idea about how much total production could increase with even a slight increase in per acre yield, an official said, provincial production jumped around 600,000 tons with one maund per acre increase in the production if present area under cultivation is taken into account. The official was optimistic about production close to 21.75 million tons in the province against the previous high of 20.46 million tons achieved in 2016/17. Last year, Punjab’s output was 19.40 million tons.

Against the official estimates of more than 33 maunds per acre, farmers seem more upbeat about harvesting much greater output of wheat in 2020/21 season. “We have never heard so consistently about 40-45 maunds per acre yield by so many growers this year,” said Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri-Forum Pakistan. The conducive temperature for most period of crop, close to no rains which led to virtually no attach of rust due to low humidity and much of early sowing brought a synergy of three factors for cultivation of a super healthy crop this year, he observed. In districts like Rahim Yar Khan, Muzaffargarh and Layyah, many farmers even reported 50-55 maund per acre yield of wheat.

“Safely, we may see at least 1.5 million tons of more production than the initial estimates,” Mughal said. Procurement target by public sector department should be met at all cost so farmers could be able to get due share of their produce. Pakistan Kissan Ittehad also predicted one of the greatest jumps in wheat production in ongoing season, pegging national production at over 28.5 million tons.

Many farmers viewed that they are harvesting about 10 maunds per acer greater crop size this year compared with the last year. Reports of achieving 35 to 40 maunds per acre of wheat is normal nowadays. There could be a significant jump in yield of crop due to multiple factors. Increase in wheat support price gave an impetus to wheat plantation in the country. Early sowing and subsequent unprecedented old nights and cool days for almost three months gave an ample time for growth of plant and grain development.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #export of #engineering goods increases 16.95% in 9 months. Exports of engineered products for March 2021 were recorded at $25 million. Main engineered exports included #automotive parts, #electronics & electric fans. #economy #diversification

Export of engineering goods from Pakistan witnessed an increase of 16.95 percent during the first three quarters of fiscal year 2020-21 as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

According to data issued by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the export of engineering goods during July-March 2020-21 stood at $164.010 million against the exports of $140.243 million during first three quarters of fiscal year 2019-20.

Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the engineering goods export increased by 5.96 percent during the month of March 2021 as compared to the same month of last year. The exports during March 2021 were recorded at $24.880 million against the imports of $23.480 million in March 2020.

On month-on-month basis, the export of engineering goods from the country increased by 40.22 percent in March 2021 when compared to the exports of $17.743 million in February 2021, the data revealed.

During first nine months of the current year exports of electric fans, other electrical machinery and machinery specialized for particular industry also recorded significant surge and increased by 26.83, 21.62 and 32.44 percent respectively against the corresponding period of previous year.

The export of electric fans during July-March 2020-21 increased both in quantity as well as volume as 1.285 million fans worth $ 21.19 million were exported in nine months while in the corresponding period of last year the quantity and volume of exported electric fans was recorded 982,000 and $16.707 million respectively.

During first 3 quarters of current fiscal year other electronic machinery worth $ 32.84 million was exported while the volume in the previous year was recorded $ 27 million. The export of machinery specialized for particular industry reached at $ 47.795 million in three quarters of FY2020-21 with an increase of 32.44 percent against $36.088 million exports of the corresponding period.

The export of transport equipment during July-March 2020-21 stood at $9.136, auto parts and accessories $ 14.555 million and of other machinery at $ 38.495 million which represented a growth of 6.57, 9.92 and 2.86 percent respectively.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s #exports to #US surge of 14.81% to $3.56 billion in July2020-Mar2021 as #US #economy returns to rapid post-#COVID19 growth. March 2021 monthly #exports soared 41.40%, from $342 million against the exports of $484 million in Mar 20. #pandemic

Overall Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed increase of 2.29 percent in three quarters, from $18.280 billion to $18.699 billion. On the other hand, the imports from USA into the country during the period under review were recorded as $1774.043 million against $1684.482 million last year, showing growth of 5.31 percent in seven months of this year.

Meanwhile, year-to-year basis, imports from USA during March 2021 also increased by 31.20 percent from $213.792 million last year to $280.511 million.

On month-on-month basis, the import from USA rose by 6.66 percent during March 2021 when compared to the import of $262.986 million in February 2021, SBP data said. The overall imports into the country increased by 9.43 percent, from $34.136 billion to $37.356 billion.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan begins marketing #ICT (#technology) professionals in #Japan . SAPM Zulfi Bukhari: “Since Japan is an aging population and will be needing around 500,000 of workforce in future, it is our priority to fetch maximum quota for Pakistan out of this”

“This will not be a brain drain for Pakistan as the ICT workforce will have different type of job opportunities in Japan including online, freelance and in-person,” he insisted.

Pakistan has begun a process to market its professionals from Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Japan, aimed at fetching a maximum quota in the jobs recently announced by Tokyo for the overseas workers.

Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC), an attached department of Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OHRD), has recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Inter-SES (a private organization) for the purpose, a senior officer told APP.

Under the partnership, the Inter-SES would not only market the highly qualified workforce in Japan, but also share the jobs’ demand, emanating from Japanese companies, with the OEC, he said, adding it would be posted on an online portal, to inform the youth about the new and lucrative employment opportunities.

“This will not be a brain drain for Pakistan as the ICT workforce will have different type of job opportunities in Japan including online, freelance and in-person,” he insisted.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on OPHRD also confirmed the development on his twitter account while announcing the beginning of recruitment of Pakistani workers from Information Technology (IT) sector in Japan in near future.

“OPHRD and Inter-SES are collaborating to offer job opportunities in Japan for qualified youth of Pakistan,” he tweeted the other day.

A few days earlier, while addressing the signing ceremony of the MoU between OEC and Inter-SES, he announced that recruitment of 120 skilled workers, who had been imparted Japanese language by the ministry, was underway.

The SAPM said the government would soon appoint a Community Welfare Attachee in Japan to boost footprint of Pakistani workforce in Japan.

“Since Japan is an aging population and will be needing around 500,000 of workforce in future, it is our priority to fetch maximum quota for Pakistan out of this,” Zulfikar Bukhari maintained.

He said the ministry was exploring new markets to create maximum job opportunities for Pakistani workforce in other than gulf countries. “We want to digress as a country and ministry and do not want to be heavily populated in one region.”

The SAPM vowed all-out efforts for bringing the Pakistani diaspora in Japan at par with the gulf countries as it had immense potential to meet the growing employment needs of Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that recently, Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan to engage Pakistani manpower in multiple sectors.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's quarterly #exports to #China jump 70% from $526 million in Q1/20 to $888 million Q1/21. Over 1,000 #Pakistani products now enjoy zero-duty access to #Chinese market under #FTA

Pakistan recorded nearly 70% increase in exports to China in the first quarter of 2021, an official said on Wednesday.

"Impressive figures of Pakistan's exports to China in 1st quarter of year 2021. $888 million as compared to 2020' Q1 $526 million. An increase of 69%," Moin ul Haque, Pakistan's ambassador to China, said on Twitter.

Haque praised his team for, encouraging for more: "Let us keep this momentum to achieve a historic record in 2021."

Last year, phase two of the much-touted China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect, which now allows Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products to the Chinese market with zero duties.

Pakistan is already enjoying zero duties on exports of 724 products to China under the first free trade pact signed between the two countries in 2006. After implementation of the second pact, Pakistan has been now allowed to export more than 1,000 products to China with zero duties. The new facility is particularly benefiting the agriculture, leather, confectionary items, and biscuits product sectors as well.

In 2019, Pakistan also signed an agreement with China to use Chinese currency for bilateral trade to get rid of the dollar burden in $15 billion bilateral trade.

According to official data, Pakistan and China's bilateral trade volume grew to some $15.6 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $2.2 billion in 2005.

The two longtime allies are also partners in the multi-million-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to boost trade and stimulate economic growth.

The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world's second-largest economy.

- Exports to other countries

Despite rise in exports to China, Pakistan has witnessed fall in exports to its western neighbor Afghanistan and other regional countries apparently due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic during past year.

The country's exports to Afghanistan fell 5.57% to $746.3 million over the last nine month of fiscal year 2021, compared to $790.3 million during the same period of last year, according to leading daily Dawn.

A few years ago, Afghanistan was the second-major export destination for Pakistan after the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's exports to India also plunged 90.5% to $2.2 million this year from $23.1 a year earlier, according to the report.

Islamabad's exports in 2020 dropped by over 90% to $28 million from $311 million in 2019, following suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India after New Delhi’s move to scrap the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

However, Pakistan's exports to Japan and some central Asian countries witnessed an increase.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Pakistani premier on commerce and investment, said in a statement that Islamabad's exports to Japan grew by 47% to $86.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to Spend ‘Bare Minimum’ $6 Billion to Boost Growth. Finance Chief Shaukat Tarin: “We need 2 million jobs every year. If we do not go into growth mode, we will have a major crisis on the streets.” #economy #jobs #infrastructure #CPEC #ImranKhan

Pakistan plans to boost spending on large infrastructure projects by as much as 40% to create jobs and foster productivity in an economy crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said.

The federal government will earmark as much as 900 billion rupees ($6 billion) for development expenditure in the year beginning July, Tarin, who took office last month, said in an interview in Islamabad. The economy needs to expand by 5% next year, he said.

“That’s the bare minimum we need for a country this size,” said Tarin, who is due to present a new budget next month for the world’s fifth most-populous nation. “There are almost 110 million youth.”

Tarin, a former banker, was appointed last month as the fourth finance minister since Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government took power in 2018. He also served in the role between 2008 and 2010, helping the nation avoid default by securing a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. He comes into office as Pakistan faces a third wave of coronavirus cases, prompting authorities to order a week-long shutdown that may weigh on economic activity and hurt incomes.

Tarin’s plan will reverse his predecessor’s decision to lower spending to narrow the budget deficit, which he estimates to be a little above 7% of gross domestic product in the current fiscal year through June, against 8.1% in the previous year. Tarin said he expects the deficit in the next fiscal to be 1 or 1.5 percentage points lower.

While balancing the budget will be key for Pakistan’s current $6 billion loan program with the IMF, the new finance minister is negotiating with the organization for more wriggle room to support economic growth.

The government’s GDP target for next year is a percentage point higher than the IMF’s 4% projection, and Tarin is seeking to boost growth to 6% in the year after. The Washington-based lender sees the economy expanding 1.5% in the current fiscal period after a rare contraction last year.

We need 2 million jobs every year,” he said. “If we do not go into growth mode, we will have a major crisis on the streets.”

The central bank, which has cut interest rates to a three-year low to support the economy, has been on pause mode for a while and has left some of the heavy lifting to the government.

“First we have to get more revenues,” Tarin said, adding that he’s targeting about 6 trillion rupees next year in tax authority revenue, compared with this year’s 4.75 trillion-rupee target. “Unless we get more revenues, forget about any incentives to boost the economy.”

Other comments from Tarin’s interview:

On talks with the IMF: “All we are saying is that we are just basically going to give them alternate ways of achieving the same objective” including revenue generation and reducing energy debt, adding that the aim is for this to be the last IMF bailout in Pakistan’s history
Plans to tap undrawn allocated funds from Asian Development Bank and World Bank that total $20 billion
Aims to increase tech exports to $8 billion in two years, from an estimated $2 billion this fiscal year, a sector he said that he aims to support
Nation plans to soon launch global sukuk bond
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #exports to #US increase 29% to $4.1 billion in July20-April21.“This is a substantial increase of $918 million and credit goes to our exporters for making this possible under difficult global conditions,” said Special Asstt to PM Razzak Dawood

Pakistan’s exports to the US increased 29 percent to $4.1 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, commerce adviser said on Tuesday.

Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Razak Dawood said the US continues to be an important market for Pakistan.

“Our exports to the US during Jul-Apr 2021 have increased by 29 percent to $4,092 million as compared to $3,173 million in Jul-Apr 2020,” Dawood wrote on Twitter.

“This is a substantial increase of $918 million and credit goes to our exporters for making this possible under difficult global conditions,” he said.

Europe is still the biggest export destination for Pakistan. The country exported $519 million of goods and services to Eastern Europe, $1.98 billion to Northern Europe, $1.4 billion to Southern Europe, and $2.81 billion to Western Europe in the July-March period, according to the central bank’s latest data.

“I appreciate the efforts made by ministry of commerce’s trade and investment officers and urge them to provide maximum facilitation to our exporters and investors,” said Dawood.

The United States recently assured support to Pakistan’s economy amid the unrelenting coronavirus challenges and expressed satisfaction over the government’s focus on geo-economics.

In a meeting with Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, US Charge d’ Affaires Angela Aggeler assured him of full support of the US government and its people to the government of Pakistan during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Aggeler appreciated the Prime Minister’s focus on geo-economics. “Economic growth drives everything else,” a statement then quoted her as saying. “A number of US companies are looking for business and economic opportunities in Pakistan.”

Number of US companies top the list of foreign businesses operational in Pakistan, according to the Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

After showing surge last fiscal year, foreign direct investment started to decline in Pakistan as businesses and investors were playing cautiously to ride on the waves triggered by the pandemic.

With annual foreign direct investment inflows of less than $3 billion, Pakistan lags far behind the potential of exploring the country’s enormous human capital. Foreign direct investment accounts for one percent of its GDP.

The downtrend was further accelerated by the world-changing impact of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have further strengthened due to people-to-people ties, economic and business linkages as well as common interests in promoting peace and stability in the region

With 220 million consumer market, growing middle class and a young population, Pakistan offers immense opportunities for the US enterprises to invest in sectors such as information technology, agriculture, energy and tourism. Strong bilateral relations would, in turn, facilitate closer economic cooperation between the two countries.

Pakistan economy will return to growth in fiscal year 2020-21, gaining a modest 1.5 percent and accelerate to 4.4 per cent in 2022, according to ratings agency Moody’s. The government and central bank responses and reforms will partially soften the pandemic's impact and help revive the economy. The government and the central bank project growth at 3 percent.
Riaz Haq said…
The State Bank of Pakistan has said that the FY21 growth is expected to rise to 3.94 percent, as post-Covid recovery underway since last summer has strengthened.

In a statement on Monday, the central bank said that the nine-month current account is also in surplus for the first time in 17 years and the foreign exchange reserves are at a four-year high. “This rebound was fueled by a well-calibrated policy response,” said SBP.

Given high public debt, fiscal support was targeted to the most vulnerable, notably through the globally-acclaimed Ehsaas program, said SBP. "At the same time public debt and deficit were kept under check which has supported market sentiment, investment outlook, and economic recovery," it added.

SBP said that it provided a targeted economic stimulus of Rs2 trillion to support the recovery through interest rate cut, principal deferment & loan restructuring, Rozgar payroll finance scheme to prevent layoffs, and concessional finance for investment in industry and health facilities.

The SBP on Saturday night said the provisional estimate for FY21 growth of 3.94 percent released by the National Accounts Committee (NAC) on Friday reflects the strong economic recovery underway since the beginning of this fiscal year, which has been highlighted in recent monetary policy statements and quarterly reports of the SBP.

SBP said that it had raised its own growth forecast in March on the basis of buoyant economic activity reflected in different high frequency data.

“This was done in an appropriately conservative manner while noting upside risks to growth. Data received since then, and discussed in the NAC, suggest these upside risks have materialized,” said SBP.

According to SBP, in some sections of the media, needless apprehensions are being cast about the deliberations that took place in the NAC on Friday and SBP‘s views.

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in a presser on Sunday also said that figure of 3.94 percent should not be made controversial because it was worked in a very transparent way by the Planning Division and Finance Division has nothing to do with it.

Riaz Haq said…
During Apr’21, technology exports was up 66% YoY to USD 196mn. During 10MFY21, technology recorded exports worth USD 1,708mn contributing 35% to the overall services’ export and marking a 46% YoY jump.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Aims to Double IT Industry in Two Years With #Tech Zones.Half a dozen global & 50 domestic firms have expressed interest in setting up in proposed zones. As much as $1.5 billion of private investment will pour into these projects in next 2 years.

New tech zones may double IT industry to $6 billion in 2 years
Pakistan has huge youth population, world’s No. 3 gig economy

Pakistan is looking to double its IT industry in two years by setting up dedicated tech zones across the country, after missing out on tech booms that helped nations like India and Philippines become back-end operators for the world.

The world’s fifth most populous nation expects to open a dozen such zones by next year, said Amer Hashmi, who heads the government body responsible for developing science and technology zones. It’s offering a 10-year waiver on corporate tax and imports of any equipment or building material needed for the areas, which will give Pakistan’s IT industry a “catapult push” that could double its size to as much as $6 billion in two years, he added.

Pakistan is banking on the new tech zones to create employment for its masses of young people -- nearly two-thirds of its population is below 30. It’s already home to the third-largest gig economy globally after India and Bangladesh, according to Online Labour Index by Oxford Internet Institute. A flood of overseas capital into startups from fintech to e-commerce that began during the coronavirus pandemic is also creating demand for dedicated zones to serve these industries.

The initiative first emerged after Prime Minister Imran Khan sought answers at a meeting last year as to why Pakistan was missing out on the tech boom. Tapping on his own experience as an entrepreneur, Hashmi told the prime minister that the South Asian nation lacked a tech eco-system or an enabling environment.

Hashmi, who left his job with International Business Machines Corp. in Canada and moved back to Pakistan to open a technology company, had to grapple with people asking for bribes and faced delays with setting up his own fiber network and data centers. The new areas will not have such issues and will be a plug-and-play model, he said.

“How do you get a Google or Microsoft or Amazon? You attract them and for that you have to give special incentives, which well I think we would have probably been the last in the region to give,” Hashmi, now chairman of Special Technology Zones Authority, said in an interview. “Dubai Internet City gave them. They got all the big companies.”

Cash-strapped Pakistan has tried several times to start similar projects in the past. In 2006, it planned to spend $1 billion to build dozens of software parks, though that effort failed. This time, the government’s efforts will involve attracting global investment to ensure the project takes off.
Riaz Haq said…
13 sectors’ exports post double-digit growth

Exports of home textile products were up by 27pc to $3.642bn in 11MFY21 against $2.879bn over the last year, followed by a 16pc increase in men’s garments to $3.505bn against $3.019bn last year. An increase of 33pc in women garments to $646.49m was noted against $486.52m over the corresponding months of last year.

Similarly, in the vale-added leather sector, exports of leather apparel posed a growth of 11pc to $584.02m in 11MFY21 against $528.02m over the corresponding months of last year, followed by an increase of 57pc in exports of jerseys, pullovers and cardigans to $530.14m against $337.39m in the same period in FY20.

Export proceeds of copper and articles thereof posted growth of 44pc to $463.17m between July to May 2021 against $321.95m over the last year, followed by 14pc in t-shirts to$453.4m against $398.79m last year, 15pc in made-up articles of textile materials to $432.47m against $377.24m of last year and 38pc in pantyhose, stockings, socks to $417.41m against $302.67m over the last year.

Pakistan is one of the main suppliers of global surgical instruments. However, these instruments are re-marketed from western countries with famous brands. As a result, the export value of these products remain very less. The export of surgical instruments posted a growth of 17pc to $398.88m in 11MFY21 against $341.51m over the last year, followed by 23pc in gloves to $285.13m against $232.44m over the last year.

The export of pharmaceutical products posted growth of 27pc to $240.04m against $188.47m last year and worn clothing by 33pc to $228.47m against $171.18m over the last year.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan reports 10-year high #exports in fiscal year 2021 despite #covid19 #pandemic. #Tech exports reached record $2 billion. #Textile exports increased 18.85% while #pharma exports increased 27%. Exports of #copper and copper derivatives increased 44%.


Pakistan's exports increase to $31.3 bln in FY21: Razak Dawood$31.3-bln-in-FY21-Razak-Dawood

Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood said Thursday that the country’s exports increased to 31.3 billion during the last fiscal year (2020-21), reflecting government’s successful trade policy.

As Compared to the previous financial year (FY2020), exports increased by 18 percent during 2020-21, despite the negative impact of Covid-19, the adviser said this while addressing a press conference here.

He said that during the outgoing financial year, country’s merchandize exports stood at $25.3 billion, while services exports reached to $ 6 billion. He said that during the last month of June 2020-21, domestic exports exceeded $2 billion.

Similarly, Information Technology (IT) exports remained above $2 billion in last Fiscal Year, he added.

He said that the government would sign a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Uzbekistan on July 7.

He said the government was working on ‘Tariff Rationalization’ and would rationalize 4,000 tariff lines in the next financial year 2022.
Riaz Haq said…
IT ministry to establish more software technology parks

He (Minister of IT) said the (Pakistan federal) government had also decided to set up an information technology park near the Jinnah International Airport in the trade and business hub of Karachi at a cost of Rs 31 billion.

The IT park would house about 210 IT companies having 8,400 employees. Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) would act as the project executing agency and complete it in six years.

The IT park would span over an area of 106,449 square meters with eight floors above the ground and three basement floors, he said.

To a question, the official said the ministry of IT had recently inaugurated IT Park in Islamabad, consisting of twelve-storey self-contained building on covered area of 66,893 square meters.

The IT Park would be developed with state-of-the-art infrastructure and allied facilities for IT companies with financial assistance of Exim Bank, Korea, he added.The project, he said, would be completed in 30 months with the total cost of Rs 13.72 billion.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #tech ecosystem is finally taking off. In 2021, Pakistani #startups are on track to raise more money than the previous 5 years combined. This capital is coming from investors from #Asia, #MiddleEast & top #SiliconValley VCs. via @techcrunch

Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, has been slow to adapt to the internet economy. Unlike other emerging economies such as China, India and Indonesia, which have embraced digitization and technology, Pakistan has trailed the region in the adoption of technology and startup formation.

Despite this, investors have dreamed for years of the huge opportunities in unlocking Pakistan’s potential as a digital economy. As a country of 220 million people, almost two-thirds of whom are under the age of 30, Pakistan draws natural comparisons to Indonesia — which has rapidly emerged as one of the most vibrant technology ecosystems outside the U.S. and China.

After years of lagging behind, over the course of the past 18 months, Pakistan’s technology ecosystem has come to life in unprecedented fashion. In 2021, Pakistani startups are on track to raise more money than the previous five years combined. Even more excitingly, a large portion of this capital is coming from international investors from across Asia, the Middle East and even famed investors from Silicon Valley.

The rapid emergence of Pakistan’s technology ecosystem on the international stage has been no accident — it’s the result of a confluence of changing facts on the ground and shifting dynamics in the startup and investing world as a result of the pandemic.

The sudden emergence of Pakistan’s tech ecosystem on the international stage has been driven by three major factors: an improving security situation, quickly growing mobile connectivity, and critical legal changes and deregulation.

As a frontline state and coalition partner in the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan saw fatalities from terrorist violence soar from 295 in 2001 to a peak of over 11,000 in 2009. This climate of instability and violence scared away international business and investors from Pakistan for much of the first two decades of the 21st century.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's DigiKhata raises $2 million seed to help small businesses digitize bookkeeping and start online stores

Faisalabad-based fintech DigiKhata has raised $2 million in a seed round, it announced in a statement today. The round was led by Chinese VC MSA Capital, and joined by Shorooq Partners, SOSV, +92 Ventures, and some angel investors.

Founded in 2020 by Adnan Aslam, DigiKhata enables micro and small businesses to manage their bookkeeping using its web and mobile app. The app replaces offline registers and diaries and helps merchants digitize their bookkeeping by recording financial transactions digitally. It also sends automated reminders to their customers for (due) payments, helping merchants recover debts.

The first user of the app was Adnan’s father who runs a wholesale business in Faisalabad. It claims to have grown the number of registered businesses to over 1 million since then. DigiKhata declined to share the details about their active userbase but told us that their retention numbers are excellent. Once a user has a large number of transactions recorded on the platform, it becomes difficult for them to switch to alternatives, said the startup, adding that in 2020 alone, its userbase has recorded over $1 billion worth of transactions on its platform.

“The MSME sector contributes significantly to the Pakistani economy in terms of GDP, exports and employment. If empowered with the right tools and resources, their value addition to the economy can grow manifolds. With this round of funding, we are looking to scale our team and continue building world-class utility solutions to help these MSMEs generate real economic value and grow,” noted DigiKhata’s founder and CEO in a statement.

Prior to starting DigiKhata, Adnan led finance and accounting functions at different companies in Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Africa. He’s a chartered accountant by profession and bootstrapped the business before raising this round, with his savings.

The startup has recently also launched its second product, DigiDokaan, a mobile app that helps MSMEs build and launch their online stores. Since going live three months ago, DigiDokaan has helped users set up 50,000 stores, claimed the startup.

On all fronts, DigiKhata faces competition from multiple players. In the digital ledger space, the local alternatives include CreditBook, Bazaar’s Easy Khata, and Uhdaar, and for building stores, there are options like Dukan and Chikoo. Adnan termed competition good for business, “It keeps you on your toes. We’re focused on serving our userbase by building the best-in-class products.”

Riaz Haq said…
Google's and Kantar's"Journey to Digital" report on Pakistan

The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.
The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country.
The study further shows 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

Pakistan is witnessing a digital revolution and most of the citizens are ready to embrace it as more than half the population of the country access internet on daily basis, a study has revealed.

Google and Kantar shared new research “Journey to Digital” about the digital population in Pakistan. The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.

The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi / Islamabad).

Overall, 66% of internet users are based in urban areas while 47% are based in rural areas. The study further showed that 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

According to the study, young males are early adopters, who access the internet more than any other group. They are also keener to try new things and need the internet for education and work.

Internet usage surged due to COVID-19, finds the study, as, before the lockdown, 79% of internet users in urban locations accessed the internet daily, which increased by 10% since lockdowns were imposed.

Google Search and YouTube are most popular in Pakistan, said the study. YouTube, used by nearly 90% of all internet users, is the most popular app in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey.

The study also says that one-third of all internet users in Pakistan have made a purchase online and one-fourth of these shoppers have increased their spending during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Pakistan is a witness to the e-commerce boom as 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54% agree that online shopping websites or apps give personalised product recommendations, which is a common question from shoppers.

However, 66% of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward, and two-thirds of Pakistan online shoppers believe that they will buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google explained, “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviours that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.”

"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Trust is also crucial, so helping customers gain confidence by showing them how easy, convenient and personal the e-shopping experience will be critical to continuing the upward rise of eCommerce in Pakistan, Leah Westwood, Client Manager at Kantar added.

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