According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), our exports for December 2020 surpassed the 2019 figure. More importantly, the exports are not traditional products, but value-added and non-traditional commodities. Undoubtedly, this is the kind of improvement in the export balance that Pakistan sorely needs. If we can maintain this trend in the coming months and years, we can achieve greater economic and financial stability. However, our record indicates that oftentimes we fail to sustain the trend of value-added exports. And this unsustainability is the real problem. Pakistani exporters and manufacturers fail to cash on foreign contracts in the long term.
Nevertheless, it is not fair to hold the manufacturers solely responsible for keeping the trend alive. The government also has a role in the issue. Fluctuations in supply lines of raw materials or irregular power supply become the most significant stumbling blocks towards making export-led growth permanent and consistent. Only recently, the government provided the much-needed support to our textile industry and it successfully emerged out of its rut, evident from the December figures of PBS. However, the state’s support must be conditioned. The biggest failure on the part of the textile industry was lack of innovation and the use of outdated machinery. As a result, countries better equipped with modern technology snatched Pakistan’s market share.
December 2020 marks the fourth consecutive month in which Pakistan witnessed an increase in exports. The data provided by the PBS show that our exports to the European markets have increased. However, we failed to maintain our export share in the Middle East and South-East Asia. The government and exporters must identify the reasons behind the increase and decline in exports in these regions. Without knowing the reasons, we cannot ensure the sustainability of our export-led growth. So far, the government has stayed true to its commitment to stakeholders in the industry. Hopefully, it will not leave them alone in the future as well.