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Q. No. 7. (a) What is Balance of Payment? Point out its major components. (b) Analyze any one years’ BOP of Pakistan. (2018-I)

Understanding Balance of Payments: Major Components and Analysis

Introduction to Balance of Payments:

The balance of payments (BOP) is a systematic accounting record that tracks all economic transactions between a country and the rest of the world over a specific period, usually a year or a quarter. It provides a comprehensive overview of a nation’s economic interactions with other countries, including trade in goods and services, financial transactions, and capital movements. The BOP is a critical tool for policymakers, economists, and analysts to assess a country’s external financial position, identify trends, and formulate appropriate policies.

Major Components of the Balance of Payments:

The balance of payments is typically divided into three main components, each representing different types of economic transactions:

1. Current Account:

The current account records a country’s transactions in goods, services, income, and current transfers with the rest of the world. It comprises the following sub-components:

a. Trade Balance: The trade balance measures the difference between the value of a country’s exports and imports of goods. A positive trade balance (exports > imports) indicates a trade surplus, while a negative trade balance (imports > exports) indicates a trade deficit.

b. Services: The services account includes transactions related to services such as transportation, tourism, financial services, and royalties. It encompasses payments and receipts for services rendered between residents and non-residents.

c. Income: The income account records investment income earned by residents from their investments abroad and income earned by non-residents from their investments in the country. It includes dividends, interest, rents, and profits.

d. Current Transfers: The current transfers account captures unrequited transfers of money between residents and non-residents. It includes remittances, foreign aid, grants, and other transfers without a corresponding exchange of goods or services.

2. Capital Account:

The capital account records a country’s transactions in financial assets and liabilities with the rest of the world. It encompasses the following sub-components:

a. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): FDI represents investments made by residents of one country in physical assets (such as factories, infrastructure, and real estate) in another country with the intention of establishing a lasting interest and control.

b. Portfolio Investment: Portfolio investment involves the purchase of financial assets (such as stocks, bonds, and securities) in foreign markets by residents or non-residents. It includes both equity and debt securities.

c. Other Investments: Other investments include loans, deposits, trade credits, and other short-term and long-term financial transactions between residents and non-residents.

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d. Changes in Reserve Assets: The changes in reserve assets account reflect transactions involving changes in a country’s foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank. It includes purchases and sales of foreign currencies, gold, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), and other reserve assets.

3. Financial Account:

The financial account records changes in ownership of financial assets and liabilities between residents and non-residents. It comprises the following sub-components:

a. Direct Investment Abroad: Direct investment abroad represents investments made by residents of one country in physical assets in other countries, primarily in the form of equity capital and reinvested earnings.

b. Portfolio Investment Abroad: Portfolio investment abroad involves the acquisition of foreign financial assets (such as stocks, bonds, and securities) by residents or non-residents for investment purposes.

c. Financial Derivatives and Other Investment: This category includes transactions involving financial derivatives (such as options, futures, and swaps) and other investments, including loans, deposits, and trade credits.

d. Changes in Reserve Assets: Similar to the capital account, the changes in reserve assets account in the financial account represent transactions involving changes in a country’s foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank.

Analysis of Balance of Payments:

To provide a practical example, let’s analyze the balance of payments of Pakistan for the fiscal year 2020:

1. Current Account Analysis:

  • Trade Balance: Pakistan experienced a decrease in the trade deficit in 2020 due to a decline in imports caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Export sectors such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, and IT services performed relatively well, contributing to export earnings despite global economic challenges.
  • Services: The services account saw a decrease in earnings from tourism, transportation, and other services due to travel restrictions and lockdown measures. However, remittances from overseas Pakistanis increased during the year, providing support to the current account.
  • Income: Income from foreign investments remained stable, with dividends and profits from multinational corporations contributing to the income account.
  • Current Transfers: Remittances continued to be a significant source of foreign exchange earnings for Pakistan, reaching record levels in 2020 despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

2. Capital Account Analysis:

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): FDI inflows remained subdued in 2020 due to global economic uncertainty and investor concerns about the business environment in Pakistan. The government introduced policy reforms to attract foreign investment, but challenges such as security risks and bureaucratic hurdles persisted.

Portfolio Investment: Portfolio investment faced volatility and outflows in the wake of the pandemic, as global investors adopted a risk-averse approach and shifted funds to safer assets.

Other Investments: Pakistan received financial assistance from international donors and lenders to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and support essential imports, contributing to inflows in the other investments category.

Changes in Reserve Assets: The State Bank of Pakistan actively managed the country’s foreign exchange reserves to stabilize the currency

Analyzing Pakistan’s Balance of Payments for the Year 2019-2020

Introduction:

The balance of payments (BOP) is a comprehensive record of a country’s economic transactions with the rest of the world over a specific period, usually a year. Analyzing Pakistan’s BOP for the fiscal year 2019-2020 provides valuable insights into the country’s external financial position, trade dynamics, and policy implications. In this analysis, we will examine the major components of Pakistan’s BOP for the given year and discuss their implications for the economy.

1. Current Account Analysis:

The current account reflects Pakistan’s transactions in goods, services, income, and current transfers with the rest of the world.

a. Trade Balance: Pakistan’s trade balance in 2019-2020 experienced a significant deficit, driven by higher imports compared to exports. Despite efforts to boost exports through various initiatives, including the Prime Minister’s Export-Led Growth Strategy, the country continued to face challenges such as low productivity, limited value addition, and a narrow export base. The trade deficit widened due to increased imports of machinery, petroleum products, and consumer goods, while exports remained subdued, particularly in sectors such as textiles and agriculture.

b. Services: The services account of Pakistan’s BOP saw mixed trends in 2019-2020. While the country experienced growth in earnings from sectors such as telecommunications, information technology, and financial services, it faced challenges in traditional service sectors such as tourism and transportation due to security concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite efforts to promote tourism through the “Visit Pakistan” initiative, revenue from tourism remained below its potential, impacting the overall services account balance.

c. Income: Pakistan’s income account recorded stable earnings from foreign investments in 2019-2020. Despite global economic uncertainties and fluctuations in financial markets, income from dividends, interest, and profits remained relatively consistent. Multinational corporations and foreign investors continued to repatriate earnings from their investments in Pakistan, contributing to the income account balance.

d. Current Transfers: Remittances from overseas Pakistanis emerged as a significant source of foreign exchange inflows in 2019-2020. Despite economic challenges in host countries and the COVID-19 pandemic, remittance inflows remained resilient, providing vital support to the current account balance. The government introduced various incentives to encourage remittances, including the Roshan Digital Account initiative, which allowed overseas Pakistanis to open bank accounts remotely and invest in the country’s financial markets.

2. Capital Account Analysis:

The capital account records Pakistan’s transactions in financial assets and liabilities with the rest of the world.

a. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Pakistan showed mixed trends in 2019-2020. While the country attracted FDI in sectors such as telecommunications, energy, and infrastructure, overall inflows remained subdued due to factors such as security concerns, policy uncertainty, and bureaucratic hurdles. The government introduced measures to improve the business environment and attract foreign investment, including the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and the initiation of reforms to ease the process of doing business.

b. Portfolio Investment: Portfolio investment in Pakistan’s capital account experienced volatility and outflows in 2019-2020. Global economic uncertainties, geopolitical tensions, and domestic political instability contributed to investor concerns and capital flight from the country’s financial markets. Foreign investors adopted a risk-averse approach, reducing their exposure to Pakistani stocks and bonds, while domestic investors diversified their portfolios to minimize risks.

c. Other Investments: Other investments, including loans, deposits, and trade credits, played a significant role in Pakistan’s capital account in 2019-2020. The country received financial assistance from international donors and lenders to support its economic development agenda and address balance of payments pressures. Additionally, bilateral and multilateral agreements facilitated concessional loans and grants for infrastructure projects, social development initiatives, and poverty alleviation programs.

d. Changes in Reserve Assets: Changes in reserve assets reflect transactions involving Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). In 2019-2020, the SBP actively managed the country’s reserves to stabilize the currency, mitigate external financing pressures, and ensure macroeconomic stability. The central bank intervened in the foreign exchange market to manage volatility, support the balance of payments, and build a buffer against external shocks.

3. Financial Account Analysis:

The financial account records changes in ownership of financial assets and liabilities between residents and non-residents.

a. Direct Investment Abroad: Pakistan’s direct investment abroad in 2019-2020 remained limited compared to foreign direct investment inflows into the country. While some Pakistani companies expanded their operations overseas, overall outward investment was constrained by factors such as regulatory barriers, capital controls, and limited access to foreign markets.

b. Portfolio Investment Abroad: Portfolio investment abroad by Pakistani residents saw moderate growth in 2019-2020. High-net-worth individuals, institutional investors, and corporate entities diversified their portfolios by investing in foreign financial assets, including equities, bonds, and mutual funds. However, portfolio outflows were partly offset by repatriation of dividends and interest payments on existing investments.

c. Financial Derivatives and Other Investment: Financial derivatives and other investment activities in Pakistan’s financial account reflected transactions in financial instruments such as options, futures, swaps, loans, deposits, and trade credits. While the country experienced inflows and outflows in these categories, the overall impact on the financial account balance was relatively modest compared to other components.

d. Changes in Reserve Assets: Similar to the capital account, changes in reserve assets in the financial account represent transactions involving Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the SBP. The central bank actively managed the country’s reserves to maintain external stability, ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market, and meet international payment obligations.

Conclusion:

Analyzing Pakistan’s balance of payments for the fiscal year 2019-2020 provides valuable insights into the country’s external financial position, trade dynamics, and policy challenges. Despite facing various economic, geopolitical, and social challenges, Pakistan’s balance of payments remained relatively stable, supported by resilient remittances, financial assistance, and prudent macroeconomic policies. However, structural imbalances, including a widening trade deficit, subdued FDI inflows, and volatile portfolio investment, underscore the need for comprehensive reforms to promote export diversification, attract foreign investment, and enhance external stability. By addressing these challenges and implementing sound policy measures, Pakistan can strengthen its balance of payments position, foster sustainable economic growth, and improve the welfare of its citizens.

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