Govt forms committee to stop declining trend in textile exports

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The commerce ministry has finally admitted that there are some other reasons for declining trend in the country’s textile exports, other than its official version, which are decline in global commodity prices and energy issues.

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan on Wednesday constituted a committee headed by Secretary Commerce Muhammad Shahzad Arbab which also includes representatives of the ministry of textile industry, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to bring about a policy action plan to redress the impediments confronted by the textile industry in increasing its exports.

The APTMA representatives said the industry was in dire need of government support as the international competitors in textile sector were eroding Pakistan’s preferences. The government should also take stern and swift steps in case where dumping and smuggling of goods was reported, he suggested.

An official source said the APTMA representatives mentioned the administrative issues in the commerce and textile ministry as a number of competent officers were sent to other ministries. They complained that the commerce ministry instead of providing market access was busy in other issues. They stressed appointment of competent persons on important seats in commerce and textile ministries as well as at the TDAP. They mentioned that the TDAP was mandated to evolve marketing strategies, but consultants appointed on political grounds were not delivering. Most of the funds meant for export promotion are being used on foreign trips by bureaucrats. The government has created 50 posts for commercial attachés to promote exports of Pakistani products but there is no benchmark to check their performance.

The committee will hold negotiations with all the 14 associations of textile sector and bring about viable proposals keeping in view the constraints faced by the government. It will present its recommendations next month which will be forwarded to the prime minister for decision to reverse the declining trend in Pakistani exports. It is important to mention that the commerce ministry has envisioned $ 40 billion export target for the next five years under its new strategic trade policy framework that will also be unveiled next month.

The commerce minister held talks with the representatives of APTMA also participated by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan CEO SM Muneer and FPCCI President Mian Muhammad Idrees. The APTMA apprised the minister about the multifarious issues faced by the domestic textile industry which had rendered the industry uncompetitive with the regional competitors. The APTMA proposed to bring about a level-playing field for Pakistani textile producer as the regional competitors are heavily subsidizing and supporting their textile industry.

The minister directed that the issue of electricity provision, electricity tariffs, small taxes on textile value chain, rising cost of production of Pakistani textile products as compared to the regional competitors, lack of new investments in the textile sector, export incentives for the textile industry, availability of finances for the sector and the declining share of Pakistani textiles in the world exports should be deliberated thoroughly in the committee.