Textile exports rose 7.2 per cent to $8.79 bn during the first eight months of the current fiscal year of 2018 as value-added sector continued to post recovery in foreign earnings, official data showed. Textile exports, accounting for around 60 per cent of the country’s total exports, amounted to $8.21 bn in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed.

Exports have been on the downward trend for the last four years, but trade enhancement package worth Rs. 180 bn comprising rebates and tax concessions announced in January last year encouraged exporters to vie for additional shares in the international market. In July-February, knitwear exports recorded the highest 13.3 per cent growth in the value-added sector, fetching $1.76 bn in exports revenue. Export of readymade garments rose 13.1 per cent to $1.69 bn in the period under review. Bedwear exports increased 4.5 per cent to $1.48 bn. Export of cotton cloth, however, remained flat at $1.43 bn in the first eight months.

In February, textile exports rose 7.14 per cent year on year (YoY), but they fell 1.81 per cent month on month (MoM). Value-added textile sector could not keep up the uptrend during the month as compared to the previous month. Exports of knitwear increased 13.43 per cent YoY, but decreased 9.11 per cent MoM. Bedwear export declined 3.27 per cent YoY and 5.24 per cent MoM. Exports of readymade garments increased 7.8 per cent YoY, but decreased 8.7 per cent MoM. Cotton cloth export improved 13 percent in February over the same month a year earlier, but it inched down 3.4 per cent over January. Industry officials blamed stuck sales and income taxes refunds for the downward trend in February numbers.

“Government has so far disbursed only 20 per cent of the funds pledged as rebates under the Prime Minister [trade enhancement] package,” Jawed Bilwani, Chairman Pakistan Apparel Forum, representing four value-added textile associations. “It is yet to release tax refunds despite issuance of refund payment orders (RPOs). The refunds should be made within seven days of RPOs according to a law.”

PBS data further showed that food exports climbed 21.7 per cent to $2.84 bn in July-February over the corresponding period last fiscal year. The key exportable item in the food group is rice that earned the country $1.26 bn during the first eight months of FY2018, up 22.1 per cent over the comparable period of FY2017.

Exports from manufacturing group, comprising sports goods, carpets, leather products, engineering goods and fertiliser rose 10.4 per cent to $2.22 bn in the July-February period. Total exports, during the eight months, jumped 11.6 per cent to $14.85 bn, while imports soared 17.1 per cent to $39.1 bn in the period under review. PBS data showed that alone oil import payment accounted for 23 per cent of total import bills in July-February. Pakistan spent $9.014 bn on imports of petroleum products, crude and liquefied natural and petroleum gases, up a staggering 35 per cent over the corresponding period a year earlier.

Though machinery imports were the second biggest head with $7.56 bn of import bills, they fell 3.2 per cent in July-February over the same period a year ago. Imports of fertiliser, insecticides, plastic materials, medicinal products and others under agricultural group increased 17.21 per cent to $5.68 bn. The country coughed up $4.22 bn on food imports in the period under review, up 6.32 per cent over the same period earlier. Furthermore, metal group imports amounted to $3.46 bn, followed by transports ($2.91 bn) and textile group, consisting of raw cotton, synthetic fibre and worn clothing ($2.15 bn).