The exports from the country increased by 4.98 percent during the first half (H1) of the current fiscal year (2020-21) as compared to the corresponding period of last year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported. The exports from the country during July-December (2020-21) were recorded at $12.098 billion against the exports of $11.524 billion during July-December (2019-20), according to the latest PBS data. The imports into the country during the period under review also increased by 5.72 percent by growing from $23.195 billion last year to $24.521 billion during the first half of current fiscal year. Based on the figures, the country’s trade deficit increased by 6.44 percent during the first half compared to the corresponding period of last year. The trade deficit during the first six months of the current fiscal year was recorded at $12.423 billion against the deficit of $11.671 billion last year. Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the exports from the country increased by 18.31 percent during the month of December 2020 as compared to the exports of December 2019. The exports during December 2020 were recorded at $2.352 billion against the exports of $1.988 billion in December 2019, the data revealed. The imports into the country also increased from $4.020 billion in December 2019 to $5.035 billion in December 2020, showing growth of 25.25 percent. On month-on-month basis, the exports from the country increased by 8.19 percent during December 2020 when compared to the exports of $2.174 billion in November 2020. Likewise, the imports into the country also increased by 16.69 percent in December 2020 when compared to the imports of $4.311 billion in November 2020, the data revealed. Meanwhile, the country’s services exports during the first five months of the current fiscal year decreased by 5.53 percent from $2.284 billion last year to $2.158 billion. Likewise, the services imports also declined by 18.37 percent from $3.777 billion during first five months of last fiscal year to $3.083 billion during the corresponding period of current fiscal year. Based on the figures, the services trade deficit witnessed sharp decline of 38.02 percent by falling from $1.492 billion last year to $0.925 billion during the current year. Gas supply: Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday criticized the decision of the gas utility to discontinue supply of natural gas to the general industry which will hit economic activities and employment. In a statement issued here on Friday, he said that the decision to suspend gas supply is based on weak planning and incompetence of the officials concerned which has left thousands jobless, he said. Mian Zahid Hussain said that billions have been spent on LNG project but people are still facing a shortfall which is beyond understanding. The tariff of has been hiked by 700 percent over the last two and a half years but it has failed to improve working of state-run gas companies, he said. The business leader said that the decision of the bureaucracy will prove disastrous for the industry including exports as export base industries have also been closed which will result in supply chain disruption. “The move will not only hurt the industry but revenue and jobs destabilizing the trade balance while depriving CNG stations will result in additional inflation as transportation will become costly,” he added. Mian Zahid noted that tenders for import of LNG were delayed resulting in costly imports and now the gas for summer in being ordered in winter which will result in losses to the tune of billions. He noted that PM Imran Khan is laying special emphasis on exports but some departments are hitting production and exports through their wrong decisions. The business leader said that suspension of gas supply to captive power plants in Karachi and Balochistan amounts to playing with the economy of the country which we cannot afford. Business community: The business community has expressed grave concern on the fast track subversive activities of anti-state disgruntled and unscrupulous elements for destabilizing the state to please their foreign masters. Founder Chairman Pak-US Business Council, Chairman United Business Group (UBG) and veteran trade leader Iftikhar Ali Malik in his virtual thought provoking key note address at a think tank session on “State of Economy in Pakistan” of a university through Zoom network here on Friday said that some spying agencies of foreign countries have again hatched well-conceived conspiracy against Pakistan to achieve their ulterior motives by resorting to acts of terror in the country. He said that some foreign hostile countries are bent upon to sabotage the super mega multinational gigantic project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and don’t want to see prosperity in the region and wanted chaotic conditions by involving locals. He said CPEC has been on target since its inception that promised strengthening of the economies of the region besides welfare of the people.