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Trade Deficit of Pakistan– In the initial half of the current fiscal year (July-December 2023-24), the nation observed a remarkable upswing in agriculture and food exports, registering a substantial 64% surge. Official data discloses that the cumulative exports in this sector soared to $3.847 billion, a significant escalation from the $2.345 billion recorded in the corresponding period the previous year. This surge played a pivotal role in curbing the trade deficit, witnessing a notable 34.3% reduction to $11.14 billion during the same fiscal period.

The overall merchandise exports exhibited a commendable growth of 5.17%, amounting to $14.98 billion. In contrast, imports experienced a downturn of 16.28%, declining from $31.21 billion to $26.13 billion year-on-year. Notably, rice emerged as a key contributor to this growth, nearly doubling its exports to $1.64 billion, marking a substantial 96% increase from the previous year.

Optimism among exporters is high, with projections suggesting that rice exports might surpass the $3 billion mark by the fiscal year’s end, especially if the government provides support for cultivation and explores new markets. Despite the considerable increase in export quantity, agri-food exports did not witness a corresponding surge in prices.

It is noteworthy that despite the quality produce from Pakistan, Vietnam and Bangladesh continue to outpace the country in terms of rice exports. Other remarkable increases in exports include maize, tripling to $262 million, along with significant jumps in the exports of sesame seeds (273% increase) and ethyl alcohol (497% increase).

Maize exports surged from $85 million to $262 million, sesame seed exports reached $364 million compared to $98 million the previous year, and ethyl alcohol exports rose to $259 million from $43 million. Meat exports also experienced robust growth, reaching $239 million during July-December 2023-24, a 23% increase from the same period last year.

This surge in agricultural and food exports underscores the sector’s pivotal role in the nation’s economic landscape, contributing significantly to export earnings and improvements in the trade balance. Conversely, exports of animal and vegetable fats and oils witnessed a substantial decline, plummeting to $15 million from $51 million in the first half of FY23.

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