The ministry of Commerce Friday informed that this is the first time that exports have crossed the $ 2 billion mark for six consecutive months after 2011. The exports in March 2021 increased to $2,345 million as compared to $ 2,068 million in February 2021, said a press release issued by Ministry of Commerce here. This shows an increase of 13.4 percent in local export. A consultative meeting was held by the Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razaq Dawood to review the trade trends at the Ministry of Commerce. He was informed that according to the provisional (pre-PBS) figures, monthly exports in March 2021 have been the highest since March 2011. He was further informed that since there was a lockdown in March 2021, hence the overall increase in export of 29 percent over March 2020 was misleading. The adviser was briefed that in March 2021, an increasing trend has been witnessed in the export of value-added and non-traditional products. e.g. the exports of Cement increased by 61 percent, Home Textiles (34 percent), Men and Women Garments (29 percent), Rice (10 percent), Fruits and Vegetables, (54 percent) and Meat (47 percent) compared to March 2020. He was also informed that decreasing trend was noted in export of mostly non-value-added products. The exports of Tobacco and Cigarettes decreased by -22 percent, Tents and Canvas (-36 percent), Cotton waste (-20 percent), and Tracksuits (-14 percent) as compared to March 2020. Razak was informed that geographically, in March 2021 top exports to USA, China, UK, Germany, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, while there was a decrease in exports to UAE, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. He was also briefed that imports in March 2021, grew to $ 5,313 million which has mainly been due to increased imports of petroleum, wheat, soybean, machinery, raw material and chemicals, mobiles, fertilizers, tyres and antibiotics and vaccines. The 9-months’ performance of exports was also discussed in the meeting. The advisor was informed that the provisional (pre-PBS) export data for the period July-March 2020-21 showed that the exports increased by 7 percent, to $18,669 million as compared to $17,451 million during the same period last year. During July-March 2020-21, the exports of value-added and non-traditional products increased like garments, pharmaceuticals, cutlery, etc as compared to the same period last year. During the same period export decrease was observed in mostly non-value-added products such as cotton yarn, raw leather, cotton waste, maize, etc. Razak paid rich tributes to Pakistan’s exporters for this performance during difficult times despite the COVID-19 pandemic and contraction in Pakistan’s major markets and the difficulties created by the recent upsurge of COVID-19. Socioeconomic development: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Muhammad Hammad Azhar Friday said the government’s focus would be on pursuing social, financial and economic management; strengthening the social sectors; enhancing tax revenue generation and setting the energy sector in order. Hw was talking to the World Bank (WB) Country Director, Najy Benhassine who made a courtesy call on him, according to a press statement issued by the finance ministry. Welcoming the country director, the finance minister acknowledged the pivotal role being played by the World Bank in implementing a series of reforms aimed at strengthening the social sector, broadening the tax base, harmonizing general sales tax, improving fiscal and debt management in the country. He reiterated the firm commitment of his government in implementing the reform agenda for socioeconomic development of its people as envisioned by the leadership. The continued support of the World Bank was critical for Pakistan to achieve strong, sustainable and inclusive growth, he added. The finance minister lauded the World Bank’s IDA financing for the Crisis-Resilient Social Protection (CRISP) Programme to expand the poverty alleviation and social safety “Ehsaas Programme” in order to protect the vulnerable households and increase resilience to economic shocks such as COVID-19 pandemic. He also appreciated the World Bank’s funding for the Prime Minister’s Green Stimulus Initiative to boost green jobs for workers who had been laid off during COVID-19. On the occasion, the World Bank country director complimented the finance minister on assuming the additional responsibilities and thanked the government of Pakistan for streamlining processes for the completion of various projects which are of bilateral interest.