ISLAMABAD: Import bill of oil and eatables surged by 23 per cent in the first seven months of 2011-12 over the same period last year, causing higher than expected trade deficit.
In absolute terms, the July-January import bill of these commodities reached $11.793 billion as against $9.58 billion in the same period last year, showed Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data issued on Friday.
As a result of rise in import volume of the two commodities, the share of these two sectors in total import bill reached 45 per cent this year from 42 per cent last year, making the country dependent on import of these items.
Statistics showed that the oil import bill reached $5.857 billion in the first seven months, up by 47.38 per cent from $3.974 billion last year.
The surge in import of value-added petroleum products showed that Pakistani refineries were operating on low scale because of circular debt.
Import of crude oil was up by 18.21 per cent to $2.902 billion as against $2.455 billion in the same period last year.
This increase was because of rising oil prices in the international market. The depreciation of rupee further added up the import value of oil during the period under review.
The food groups emerged second after oil in the import bill during the period under review to bridge the shortfall recorded in the local production of farm products as floods destroyed standing crops in Sindh.
However, import of some items witnessed a negative growth during the period under review.
The import bill of eatables reached $3.034 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal year against $3.151 billion in the same period last year, reflecting a slight decrease of 3.68 per cent.
Within food group import, major contribution came from edible oil, spices, tea and pulses.
The edible oil import witnessed a substantial increase during the period under review in quantity, value and per value terms.
Falling international prices, strong domestic demand and cut in import duty encouraged import of palm oil which recorded a growth of 31.78 per cent in the first seven months this year. However, import of soybean oil recorded a slight increase of 0.43 per cent this year. However, import of wheat, sugar, pulses witnessed a decline during the July-Jan period over the last year.