Pakistan Exports
Pakistan is allowing businesses in essential services and those with confirmed export orders to get back to work. Image Credit: AFP

Karachi: Pakistan is reopening some factories amid a national lockdown to counter the deadly coronavirus pandemic as the south Asian nation expects its exports will decline by 50 per cent in the next two months.

The companies with export orders will start working again with precautionary measures including calling in only essential employees and ensuring regular disinfection, Abdul Razak Dawood, the commerce adviser said. Exporters such as Interloop Ltd., which supplies to Nike Inc. and Puma SE, have reopened their factories.

The International Monetary Fund plans to approve and disburse an additional $1.4 billion in emergency financing to Pakistan next week to help the nation shield its economy. This is in addition to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has warned the pandemic may spread in coming weeks, announcing multiple stimulus packages, including its largest-ever cash payouts and for the reopening of the construction industry starting next week.

Pakistan’s decision to reopen some factories comes after a global slowdown and the IMF predicting the world economy this year will suffer its worst recession since the Great Depression. A Bloomberg survey forecast Pakistan’s $315 billion economy will expand 0.8 per cent this year, compared with the earlier forecast of 2.6 per cent. The country’s exports fell 8.5 per cent in March.

Pakistan had pinned its hopes of getting out of its regular economic boom-and-bust cycle through exports - but they will fall by as much as 50 per cent over the next few months, Dawood said. There will be a “slow recovery, very slow recovery,” he added.