Pakistan's merchandise trade deficit widened by an alarming 57.85% year-on-year to an all-time high at $43.33 billion during the first 11 months of 2021-22 through May on the back of higher-than-expected imports, according to data by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics released on Thursday (2 June).
The 11-month deficit has already crossed the full year's highest trade deficit of $37bn in 2018 when the PML-N government came to an end, mostly led by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-related imports, reports The Dawn.
Pakistan's trade deficit is propelled by the highest ever increase in oil prices in the international market. The trade deficit has been on the rise owing to an unprecedented increase in imports due to a rise in global commodity prices, while exports stagnated at around $2.5bn to $2.8 billion a month, mostly those of semi-finished products and raw materials.
In May, the trade deficit came in at $4.04 billion, growing by around 6.90% over April and by 11.50% compared to May 2021.
The trade deficit reached an all-time high of $37.7 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
However, the Pak government's measures led to a drop in it to $31.8 billion the next year (2018-19) and then a further decline to $23.2 billion in 2019-20.
The trend then reversed and the trade gap jumped to $30.8bn in the 2020-21 fiscal year and is expected to reach an all-time high during the ongoing fiscal year.