Pakistan’s exports unlikely to cross $20bn mark this fiscal

KARACHI: Pakistan’s overall exports are going to take a serious hit with exporters expecting very little to none exports in the last quarter of the current fiscal year. Exporters estimate that overall exports wouldn’t cross $20 billion mark this fiscal.

On average Pakistan exports $2.0 billion worth of goods every month. Exporters are convinced that there would be no exports for at least two months, which would result in a loss of $4.0 billion at least.

“At this point of time, there are no buyers in the world for our products whether it is textiles, sports goods or surgical goods. Moreover, China has begun reviving its industry, so even after lockdowns are lifted across the world, Pakistan’s exporters would not be able capture any substantial chunk of the global market,” Mazhar Ali Nasir a member of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), for the period July 2019 to February 2020, country’s overall exports clocked in at $15.6 billion.

Nasir said it was still unclear how long the lockdown would continue. “Although the government has announced an incentive package, but without international buyers most of the industry cannot survive. Certain textile sector exports have closed their units,” he said adding that the exports country had registered so far would be it.

Chairman Council of Textile Association (CTA), Zubair Motiwala said that textile exports would suffer at least $2.0 billion.

“The government’s support package for the textile sector is not enough. The sector is going through a severe liquidity crunch as the buyers abroad are not making payments. We had some orders delayed but the cancellations are not yet rampant. We demand of the government to link payments of all utility bills and taxes 10 days after the lifting of lockdown, otherwise the losses would be immense.”

Waheed Ahmed of Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Exporters Association said full year fruit and vegetable exports were expected to decline by at least 15 percent. “Last year, our total exports were $670 million. Mango season begins mid-May, and if we couldn’t export mangoes this season, overall exports will be down significantly.”

Businesses are coping with lost revenue and disrupted supply chains as factory shutdowns and quarantine measures spread across the globe, restricting movement and business activity. The IMF chief says 2020 could see a recession worse than the global financial crisis, while the OECD secretary general has warned the global economy will take years to recover.

Muhammad Faraz of Minhas Traders, a sports goods exporter, said that there were absolutely no orders from abroad as the markets were all closed. “I think there would be zero sports goods exports in this quarter, as these are not the things that the world wants now.”

Exports via airlines have completely stopped, while shipments via sea have declined by over 90 percent in the last week.

Akhlaq Abidi, a leading seafood exporter, said the entire world had stopped importing seafood. “We primarily export to China, UAE, Malaysia and Thailand. Now, a little export has resumed to China.”

Abidi said Pakistan’s overall seafood export was $455 million, and if the business was resumed in March, April, May, these exports would suffer at least 50 percent loss.”

It may be mentioned here Ministry of Commerce expects a decline of $2.7 billion in the next four months in country’s export due to the virus outbreak.

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