YOUSUF ALI MAHMOOD has
diversified experience in trading, sales and marketing, project
management and education. He has an MBA with majors in marketing from
IBA, Karachi, B.E. in mechanical engineering from NED University of
Engineering and Technology, Karachi and B.Sc. with majors in Physics
from University of Karachi. He is a visiting faculty member of the
Textile Engineering Department of NED University of Engineering and
challenges and opportunities are there for garment
manufacturers/exporters from Pakistan?
YOUSUF ALI MAHMOOD:
Textile and clothing trade represents 5.7 percent of world exports. It
has increased by more than 60 times during last forty years and is fast
approaching US$ 500 billion mark. The labour intensive clothing sector
has increased much faster than textile and represents 57 percent of
world textiles and clothing trade. The growth is expected to continue.
This is the opportunity. Trade liberalization adds to it. The need is to
diversify, add woven and women products to already established knit and
men's products. The challenge comes from the regional trade blocs and
the regions that enjoy preferential trade agreements. Though, Pakistan
is also member of few regional blocs but here we have joined hands with
our competitors. Unless we become true trade partners we will not get
much benefit from it. One key area demanding specific attention is value
addition. However, this cannot be achieved without improving skills.
What is being done to overcome this weakness?
Training is being provided by a number of technical training institutes,
which are managed by the trade associations. Export Promotion Bureau is
playing its role as well. Few private organizations do provide these
training as well but these efforts do not suffice. The bulk of operators
acquire whatever skill they learn while working and this is where one
should target. On job training should be focused and industrialists
should hire trainers to train their operators. The institutes should
prepare the trainers and these should be employed by the factories to
train their operators.
Does the curriculum of universities cover the key areas of textile
design these, so one should not question it. However, these are
frequently reviewed and updated and for that matter, NED University of
Engineering and Technology can be cited as an example where need was
felt for teaching Business Communication to the students. The change was
incorporated last year by introducing this new course in various
departments of the university.
What new subjects/topics must be included in the curriculum?
Garment is missing. Only two universities offer courses related to
garments in their curriculum. If we need to remain in the run to
maintain or improve our share in the global garment trade, we need to
have garment technologists, marketers and merchandisers. Much of the
emphasis is on the processing sector. Students too are desirous of
preparing themselves for that sector. Universities have to come forward
and introduce courses related to the readymade garment industry.
Is the local industry fully prepared to face the competition once
textile quota is phased out completely?
January 1, 2005 scenario is not clear. Industrialists are planning for
whatever they predict will be the outcome. But, do we have the authority
to decide what will be our share in the world trade, absolutely not. The
recent anti-dumping case can be considered as a glimpse of what may
happen in the future. Textile quota will phase out but the swords of
safeguards against sudden trade imbalances including anti dumping duty
and the qualitative restraints will be there. That will be a trade free
era, but who will be free is any body's guess.
Is the local industry ready to meet the standards pertaining to
environment and social compliance?
Environment may be an issue but the social issues are no problem. The
only factor that requires due consideration in the implementation of
issues relating to social concerns is the willingness of the
entrepreneurs to implement these. The entrepreneurs have their own
perspective. There is definitely a cost factor. The factories don't get
the right price from their buyers who ask for complete implementation of
the national laws and matching their standards. The system is there but
the role players are not serious. In addition, there are those who have
the authority to monitor the implementation of these laws and they are
those who really force the entrepreneurs to look at these issues
differently. They want their share in the business as well despite
knowing that the factory is serious in complying with the national laws.
There are a number of codes of conduct including those of WRAP, FLA and
SAI, add to it the specific codes of brands such as Levi's, Gap, Reebok
etc. Consultants do not give a clear picture regarding these codes to
industrialists and are more concerned towards adding a factory to their
clientele. If you still doubt what has been stated, lets look at the
figures. There is only one Reebok approved factory in Pakistan whereas
Bangladesh has 10; India has 14 and China has 96.