Earlier this year, Pakistan was closing in on technology services exports of $3 billion for FY22. The sitting IT minister even claimed we’d surpass it, and based on the growth trajectory then, there was little reason to doubt him. All hopes for dollar inflows were pinned to one sector basically, apart from the mercy of our overseas brethren.
But then, the growth began to taper off. After reaching a peak of $212.3 million in March, Pakistan’s telecom, communication and information services exports haven’t reached the same level again in seven months. To put it in context, previously, we were witnessing the “highest-ever” exports every 3-4 months, and the longest stretch was back in the first half of 2020.
The issue takes a political colour as supporters of PTI blame the slowdown on the change in government and the resulting political uncertainty. On the other hand, sympathisers of the ruling party see it as a bug, instead of a feature. Luckily, that’s where the data can give us some context, or maybe confuse us even more, depending on how you look at it.
For example, Q1FY23 was the first time since Q3FY16 when the quarterly telecom exports declined year-on-year. During July-September, Pakistan’s proceeds from the sector stood at $633m — lower than the past four quarters. The last time something like that happened was during FY14 and FY15.
Pakistani players in IT services are still hiring and expanding their sales offices abroad, suggesting that the slowdown in export...
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