KARACHI: Imports and exports of the country via the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) jumped 15.25% to 50.05 million tons in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016 as import of fuel, cooking oil and cotton and export of rice and meat soared in the year, according to official statistics.
“The port handles around 60% of the total import and export cargo of the country,” said an official of the Karachi Port Trust on Monday. The remaining 40% of trade is made through Port Qasim and Gwadar Port.
The KPT reported that it handled 559 oil tankers during the year against 494 in the preceding fiscal year.
Latest data of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that the country imported 148,316 tons of soyabean oil in the first 11 months of 2015-16, which was 292.34% higher than 45,103 tons in the corresponding period of last year.
According to industry officials, the traders imported higher quantity of soyabean oil due to its availability at much reduced prices in the international markets. Additionally, cheaper freight also made the imports viable.
The import of fuel oil rose 1% to 15.81 million tons in the first 11 months against 15.65 million tons in the same period last year.
Cotton import jumped 204% to 413,466 tons from 136,042 tons in the previous year.
The imports surged after cotton production in Pakistan fell sharply due to virus attack on the crop.
Other major goods imported via KPT included coal, automobiles, ethanol, steel coil, soyabean seed and project cargo for setting up factories, said the KPT official.
Exports of rice rose 9.43% to 3.94 million tons from 3.60 million tons whereas export of meat and meat preparation went up 5% to 72,436 tons from 68,998 tons.
The establishment of halal food industry in Pakistan, mainly the meat industry, helped the country to find new markets internationally. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were the countries where demand for Pakistani meat was high, industry officials said.
Exports of major items like textile and garments, leather, surgical goods and cement recorded a massive decline in terms of quantity in the period under review. Other major export items included sugar, livestock, vegetables and fruits.
The official said the port also handled Nato supplies to and from Afghanistan where some troops were stationed for security assistance. “Nato’s cargo supplies are made in containers,” he said.
Containerised trade, however, shrank in 2015-16. KPT handled 738 container ships in the year against 790 in the preceding year.
Trade in the form of bulk cargo and general cargo, however, improved, as the port handled 222 bulk cargo ships and 374 general cargo ships in the year against 193 bulk cargo ships and 225 general cargo ships, respectively, last year.
“In total, the port anchored 1,893 ships in the year against 1,732 ships last year,” it said.
KPT said imports increased 22% to 40.26 million tons from 33 million tons last year, whereas exports fell 6% to 9.79 million tons from 10.42 million tons last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2016.