Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has expressed concerns over the rising trade deficit and urged taking measures to curb the increasing trend of imports.
The trade deficit of the country has widened 70 per cent to $35.4 billion from July-March 2022 due to rising imports and stagnant export.
Talking to a trade delegation, ICCI President Muhammad Shakeel Muhammad called for urgent remedial measures to curb this unhealthy trend as it would create multiple problems for the fragile economy. He said this while talking to a delegation of traders.
A delegation of traders called on him led by Ahmed Khan, President, Traders Association, G-10 Markaz, Islamabad.
Shakeel Munir said that the trade deficit had reached an all-time high of $37.7 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year and due to the great efforts of the government, it was brought down to $23.2 billion in 2019-20. However, the trade deficit has again increased to an alarming level and if this trend continues, it could cross $40 billion by the end of this fiscal year.
He said that despite being an agricultural country, Pakistan was importing many agricultural products including wheat, sugar, palm oil and other food items, which was contributing to the rising trade deficit.
He stressed that the agricultural research institutes of the government should work with farmers and help them to improve the per acre yield of agriculture productivity so that the indigenous production could meet the local needs and the country could get rid of relying on imported food items.
The ICCI president said that the industrial sector was importing many products including raw materials and intermediate goods to meet its manufacturing needs and emphasized that the government should encourage the indigenous production of imports substitutions that would help in reducing import bills and cutting down the trade deficit of the country.
ICCI Senior Vice President Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh and Vice President Muhammad Faheem Khan said that the Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan should facilitate the private sector in exploring all potential exports markets including Africa, Central Asia and others to boost export that would be instrumental in keeping the trade deficit within a manageable level.
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