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Pakistan’s textile industry: challenges and opportunities

International economists urge that the textile is the most significant manufacturing sector and has the longest production chain, with inherent potential for value addition at each stage of processing, from cotton to ginning, spinning, fabric, dyeing and finishing, made-ups and garments. They have also reported that the present global apparel market is worth US$ 1.7 trillion, and it amounts to 2 percent of the world’s GDP. EU, USA and China are the world’s largest apparel markets with a combined share of almost 54 percent. The major 8 apparel consuming nations form a dominating share of 70 percent of the worldwide apparel market size.

In Pakistan, textile sector contributes approximately one-fourth of industrial value-added and offers employment to about 40 percent of industrial labor force. Barring seasonal and cyclical fluctuations, textiles products have sustained an average share of about 60 percent in nationwide exports. Pakistan’s textile experts also mention that the ancillary textile industry adds cotton spinning, fabric processing, home textiles, cotton cloth, cotton yarn, cotton fabric, towels, hosiery and knitwear and readymade garments, these components are being produced both in the large scale manufacturing organized sector also as in the unorganized cottage/small and medium units.

Global Apparel Market Size (US$ Bn.)
Region 2015 CAGR Projected 2025
1 EU 28 350 1% 390
2 USA 315 2% 385
3 China 237 10% 615
4 Japan 93 1% 105
5 India 59 12% 180
6 Brazil 56 5% 90
7 Russia 40 3% 55
8 Canada 25 2% 30
Others 510 4% 750
Total 1685 4% 2600

Economic advisor mentioned in the economic report of Pakistan that the spinning sector which is the backbone in the ranking of textile production. Presently, as per record of Textiles Commissioner’s Organization (TCO), it comprises 517 textile units (40 composite units and 477 spinning units) with 13.414 million spindles and 199 thousand rotors installed and 11.338 million spindles and 127 thousand rotors in operation with capacity utilization of 84.5 percent and 64 percent respectively. The government statistics also show that the issues of the power loom sector evolve chiefly because of to the poor technology and scarcity of quality yarn. It is also calculated that the looms installed in cotton textile mills are 9,084 and Looms worked were 6,384. Moreover, the production of cotton cloth has stayed stagnant which slightly raised by 0.03 percent while the exports in term of quantity slightly declined by 0.80 percent whereas in value term grew by 0.04 percent.

Being value added segment of textile industry made-up sector comprises different sub groups namely towels, tents & canvas, cotton bags, bedwear hosiery, knitwear & readymade garments counting fashion apparels. The government statistics also revealed that the industry sustains directly livelihood of 210,000 skilled workers and 490,000 unskilled workers. Another 350,000 people benefit in allied cottage industries. Thus, the industry offers directly and indirectly sustenance to well over a million people. Knitwear exports consists of knitted and processed fabrics knitted garments; knitted bed sheets, socks etc. and has the largest share 35 percent in textile exports.


Pakistani textile experts also said that the readymade garment industry has emerged as one of the significant small scale industries in the country. Its products have large demand both at home and abroad. The local requirements of readymade garments are approximately totally met by this industry. They have also recorded that most of the machines utilized by this industry are imported or domestically made/assembled. Exports rose from 22.708 million dozens to 25.621 million dozen in many types of readymade garments worth US$ 1695.557 million during Jul-Feb FY 2018 as against to US$ 1499.472 million during Jul-Feb FY 2017, thus explaining a rise of 13.08 percent in terms of value and 12.83 percent in term of quantity.

Furthermore, statistics also show that there are about 10,000 towel looms including shuttle and shuttle less in Pakistan in both organized and unorganized sector. This industry is dominantly export-based and its growth has all the time depended on export outlets. The production capacity of the canvas/tents is more than 100 million sq. meters. In term of quantity during July-February FY2018 it was registered at 20.239 thousand dozen as against to 33.919 thousand dozen during the corresponding period previous year thus explaining decline of 40.33 percent. Even in value term it declined by 39.49 percent. It is recorded that during July-Feb FY 2018, synthetic textile fabrics value $ 197.280 million were exported as against to $ 109.552 million during the corresponding period which is explaining a rise of 80.08 percent as against to last year. In quantity term the exports of synthetic rose by 108.53 percent.


Research revealed that the worldwide apparel market is predicted to touch US$ 2.6 trillion in 2025 with growth projection at 4 percent. The major drivers of the growth are the developing nations such as India and China. China will be the number one apparel market predicted to touch US$378 billion. 2025 followed by India at around US$121. It is also said that the growth is mostly because of the rising demand in both local and international markets. The Indian textile units have to adopt latest technologies and come out with latest product designs to be competitive in the international market.

No doubt, Pakistani textile industry considered as the backbone of the export sector is facing new issues which should be dealt promptly. The textile industry crumbling under high energy prices, struck up refunds and tight monetary policy is facing tough competition from India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and other states in the foreign market. Therefore, the government should take serious initiatives to safeguard local industry which is the highest foreign exchange earner and largest urban employment provider.

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