Discrepancies worth millions emerge in Pakistan-Iran trade statistics

Pak Iran imports exports

By Shahzad Paracha

ISLAMABAD: Major discrepancies have emerged in Pakistan and Iran trade data as Pakistan Customs does not have the export statistics for rice.

Sources said that the Iranian customs had communicated to Pakistan’ Ministry of Commerce about import of rice, worth approximately $700 million between March 2022 to March 2023, via Zahidan border.

However, the data maintained by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) does not convey that Pakistan exported $700 million rice to Iran during the same period.

Sources said that the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has shared this discrepancy with the FBR chairman and has requested appropriate corrective measures for proper record of export and subsequent receipt of export proceeds.

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MoC in its letter asked FBR to address this anomaly in data given the challenging foreign exchange situation of Pakistan, sources added.

It is pertinent to note that there is an ever-increasing need of authentic data availability to warrant evidence-based policy making for effective economic growth of the country and to determine whether policy measures in place have achieved the intended outcomes.

Sources said that Pakistan Customs should probe this issue. In previous fiscal year, Pakistan exported $2.4 billion rice to different countries. This year, the export of rice is expected to increase even more due to the impressive rice crop this season.

It merits mention here that Pakistan Customs also keep data of exporters so they can ask them how much rice has been exported to Iran during this period.  

Sources said that this is the responsibility of the Customs collector posted in Quetta to keep data of export consignments.

This is not the first time such discrepancies have been reported. Recently, the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) had written a letter to caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, highlighting data discrepancies.

PBC revealed that Pakistani traders reported imports of nearly $19 billion from China, Singapore, Germany, and the United Kingdom in the calendar year 2022. However, the four trading partners reported exports of $26.3 billion to Pakistan in the same year, indicating a disparity of $7.5 billion.

Moreover, in a meeting of the Finance committee, FBR chairman had requested the caretaker prime minister to address the issue of an approximately $4 billion trade discrepancy with China.

The incomplete provision of trade data has been causing revenue and foreign exchange losses to Pakistan.

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