Highlights

  • Pakistan's struggle with high debt payments
  • Pakistani rupee is down around 20% against the US dollar in 2023

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Pakistan's rupee braces for tough year after 20% fall in 2023

Depreciating 20% this year, the Pakistan Rupee is Asia's worst-performing currency. As economic challenges persist, analysts expect 2024 to be another turbulent year for the currency. 

 

Pakistan's rupee braces for tough year after 20% fall in 2023

Asia’s weakest currency, the Pakistani rupee, faces another challenging year ahead after it is set to close this year with significant losses. It's down around 20% against the US dollar in 2023, and analysts anticipate further declines into 2024. Predictions range from BMI's estimate of a drop to 350 Pakistani rupees by the year's end to Topline Securities Ltd.'s projection of 324 rupees; it closed at 285.64 rupees on Monday.

High inflation and a substantial trade deficit are among the key factors pressuring the rupee, according to John Ashbourne, a global economist at BMI. Pakistan's struggle with high debt payments and an external funding gap also weighs heavily on its currency. The country narrowly avoided default this year, but concerns linger about its economic challenges, potentially necessitating more foreign aid in 2024.

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An IMF payout of $700 million helped stave off immediate default risks, but the nation's reliance on foreign aid persists due to subdued remittances and dwindling investments. A potential dollar shortage might lead to the resurgence of parallel currency markets that emerged last year. These markets gained traction as the government tightened access to foreign currency, aiming to preserve reserves.

Despite efforts to stabilize the rupee, such as crackdowns on illegal currency exchanges, sustained control seems challenging. Goldman Sachs highlights the market's demand for a rupee premium due to escalating interest costs and temporary external balance support arrangements.

As Pakistan gears up for national polls in February, analysts anticipate a new government to ink a long-term program with the IMF, potentially offering relief to the currency. Yet, Topline Securities emphasizes that the nation's external vulnerabilities necessitate a substantial IMF program for effective resolution.


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