Pakistan’s projected 10.7 per cent growth in exports for fiscal year 2016-17 runs contrary to the government’s ambitious plan to take export earnings to $35 billion by the end of 2017-18 under the three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework.
Experts say, the $35-billion target, which was set just two months ago, needs a much more rapid rise in annual earnings and a meager 10.7 per cent growth will not be sufficient to meet the goal. Under the annual development plan released by the federal government with the budget for 2016-17, exports in the new fiscal year are projected to rise 10.7 per cent to $24.8 billion from an estimated $22.4 billion in 2015-16.
Meanwhile, imports are forecast to grow 14.7 per cent to $45.2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year 2016-17 compared to an estimated $39.4 billion in the outgoing year 2015-16. Consequently, the trade deficit will be $20.4 billion in 2016-17 as opposed to a projected $17 billion in 2015-16.
Experts, however point out that the government wasted an entire year in framing the Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18 and now it has set only a 10.7 per cent export growth target for the second year of the framework. In this scenario, the country will find it extremely difficult to hit $35 billion in export earnings by the end of fiscal year 2017-18.
Commented an official of the Ministry of Commerce, that the $35-billion export target is unlikely to be achieved by June 2018; there must be at least 30 per cent growth each year to meet this goal.