Pakistani daily worried over falling exports

Islamabad, Aug 14 (IANS) More needs to be done to put the economy on a sustainable footing, said a leading Pakistani daily, as it noted a fall in exports.

An editorial in the Dawn on Friday said that it had been more than a year and a half now that exports have been falling consistently.

“Initially the government took the line that this is a temporary state of affairs, then argued that the decline (has) to do with falling commodity prices.

“But the decline (is) continuing in spite of the fact that commodity prices bottomed out a while ago. The net result is a growth in the trade deficit, which stood at $15 billion in 2013 and has grown to $17 billion at the end of fiscal 2015.”

The daily said that exporter associations were sending out SOS, and professional economists have said this was a disastrous state of affairs.

“The fact that the situation is developing precisely at a time when the government is declaring victory in its efforts to turn the economy around, and basking in the approvals of… credit rating agencies and the IMF, simply shows the level of disconnect that has developed between economic policymakers and stakeholders, particularly those from the real sector of the economy,” said the editorial.

The State Bank has pointed to declining commodity prices as well as growing competition from Southeast Asia. The International Monetary Fund has flagged falling commodity prices, energy shortages and the exchange rate as the cause.

“The fact that such a wide spectrum of causes is being pointed to by different stakeholders – industry and creditors – shows the lack of any real understanding that exists regarding this crucial weakness in the economy,” it said.

It urged the government to take a better stock of the downward trend in exports.

“Continuing inflows of foreign exchange, through remittances and borrowing, are apparently creating a sense of complacency at the finance ministry.”

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