The export value of the textile sector can easily be raised to dollars 10 billion

Dec 08 - 14, 2003

While the in-flight between the members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) are causing serious damage to the Industry, the government has come out with decision of historic importance for the promotion of the textile sector. The government has announced that it intends to set up 3 textile cities in the country for the development of industry to produce value-added products for exports. The first city will be set up in Karachi to be followed by Lahore and Faisalabad.

With focusing on value-added textile products, the export value of the textile sector can easily be raised to dollars 10 billion from present 7 billion in a few years time.

Textile industry, Pakistan's single largest export contributor, is currently passing through multifaceted problems specially the fragmentation in the leadership of the APTMA resulting in serious damage not only to the reputation of this prestigious sector but also blurting the flow of textile exports from Pakistan. It is high time that APTMA members resolve their differences and get united to avail the highly commendable opportunity being offered by the government for the first time.

The Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production, Javed Ashraf Hussain, claimed recently, the government has taken up in right earnest preparations for the establishment of the first exclusive textile city, adjacent to the Karachi Export Processing Zone in Port Qasim Area. He disclosed at a meeting with businessmen and industrialist that the government would spend about Rs.10 billion for the purchase of 1250 acres of land besides development of urgently-needed infrastructure facilities, including establishment of a power generation plant with a capacity of 100 megawatt, a water supply system, and gas and other facilities for the allottees concerned.

The government's plan to create specialized textile making centres in the country, namely, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad, is indeed a welcome move. In fact, this programme ought to have been initiated long before when the KEPZ was established about 20-years zone. The country with a strong base of large scale cotton production enjoys the advantage of abundant raw material to rapid expand its textile industry to make a wide range of value-added products for export. Although the textile industry with a background of over 40 years of experience and sustained performance, has acquired considerable proficiency, yet it continues by and large to be stuck up in the production of cotton yarn on a big scale for export without any value addition. The weaving sector is largely engaged in the production of grey cloth, the exports witch has a very low scale of value addition. Other sectors are also known for producing cheaper priced products and thus the export quotas are utilized mainly for the shipment of low quality land low priced products. Thus the textile industry in Pakistan continues to lack the capability to manufacture higher value-added products of superior quality. It is really commendable that the present government has realized the need for upgraduation of this industry having a large potential. Had greater attention been given by the previous government to promotion of value addition in the textile manufacturing, even the same volume of exports as posted during the recent years, would have fetched about 50 percent higher foreign exchange earnings. During this period other countries in the region, which do not enjoy the advantage of local production of raw cotton, have successfully developed value-added textile manufacturing such as readymade garments. These countries include Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which are exporting textile garments on a fairly large scale. The proposed establishment of textile cities appears to be the first planned move by the government to guide the textile sector to exclusive manufacture of value-added products as against the existing preponderance of cotton spinning and grey cloth manufacturing in Faisalabad, Karachi and Lahore.

It may be recalled here that the development of textile industry in Pakistan in early 1950s was a highly encouraging phenomenon in the sense that the textile mills initiated during this period were mostly integrated units comprising equipment to manufacture cotton yarn, good quality cloth along with finishing, dyeing and printing facilities. But most of these mills could not seemingly maintain profitability at the desired level. On the other hand, the bonanza of cotton yarn export led to accelerated pace of investment in the establishment of spinning units, in view of the higher profits on the export of cotton yarn and grey cloth. It may be hoped that the deliberate move by the government to promote textile units with facilities to exclusively produce value-added products for export in the proposed textile cities, would succeed in the desired upgradaton of the entire textile industry land in increasing the exports of higher value-added products.