Falling export of textile products
By Imran Baloch
THE textile industry has been hit by falling export trend.
Most of the exporters seem to be nervous which has raised
alarm bells for the country’s economic managers.
is facing tough competition from China, India and
Bangladesh. Exports of textile products were down by 7.10
per cent to $1.625 in July-August as compared to the same
month last year.
And yarn export is increasing vis-a-vis apparel, bed linen
and cotton fabric. The exports of semi-manufactured products
are rising as against slowing down of value added products
which fetch maximum price.
Recently, UNDP released Asia-Pacific Development Report 2006
which says that Pakistan fared badly in the region’s textile
exports compared to Bangladesh— a non-cotton-producing
Pakistan earned less ($5.39 billion) than Bangladesh ($6.99
billion) in 2005 through the export of textile and clothing,
though it exported nearly 200 million kg more than Dhaka.
India and China which are cotton-producing countries have a
bigger share of the international market in terms of volume
and are also earning far greater amounts of foreign exchange
from their exports.
To improve the value addition capacity, textile industry
sources claim that around Rs450 billion has been invested in
modernisation and improvement of production technology and
textile machinery worth $4 billion was imported in the last
Even after such a huge investment, textile exporters find
themselves in a tough situation. They claim that the cost of
doing business in Pakistan is too high. Most of them demand
a cut in utility costs. They want the government to have a
fresh look at gas and electricity rates. On the other hand,
it seems that the textile industry is the most pampered
industry getting rebates for R&D, swapping of high cost
loans with subsidised credit and a range of other
In the post-quota regime, the era of concession is fast
diminishing; global trade is swiftly marching towards a
level playing field. Instead of relying on governmental
concessions, the textile management needs a paradigm shift.
If one looks at the successes of India and Bangladesh, one
finds that apart from cost of doing business and official
incentives, they focus on workers’ skill development,
improvement of working conditions, catching up with market
‘fashion’ trends, design, and brand development.
To improve the workers working conditions and wages,
Bangladesh garment industry leaders have recently persuaded
foreign buyers to agree to higher prices for ready-made
garments. Most of foreign buyers such as Wal-Mart Inc and JC
Penny etc are willing to raise prices if factories ensure
However in Pakistan, textile workers are the most neglected,
particularly women who get the lowest wages besides having
no protection of job as only two per cent workers have
appointment letters while the rest work on daily wages, as
stated at a seminar on textile policy organised by
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Fashion trend is a key element in the business of
value-added clothing or garment. Fashion changes quickly, at
least twice a year in developed markets. However in
Pakistan, experts believe that industry does not keep pace
with changing trends. Falling exports of value added textile
products is due to its ability to keep pace with latest
fashion trends. Garment designing is critical to boosting
exports and it is vital that industry should focus on it.
If we look at the manufacturing centres of Indian garment
industry, it has developed in some regions, specialised in
niche products, making it more convenient for international
player to source and work in India. Each region functions
works independently and it is self-sufficient in the
technical, raw material and labour needs of specific
Regions such as Ludhiana have been developed for knit
apparel, Bangalore for trousers and structured garment
destination, Tripura for knitwear, Delhi for innovation and
value added products and Jaipur for handicrafts and
Delhi has been selected for garment-based industry because
it is known for its ability to develop innovative products
and focus on value addition. Delhi is a vibrant metro city
and resourced with information on latest trend, fashion,
fabric, design, technology which enables it to produce
diverse products catering to the needs of international
To catch with global fashion trends, most of the garment
manufactures around the world and especially in India and
Bangladesh utilise the information highway connected with
major fashion trend-setting sites.
Management is one of the key elements in delivering
value-added products. In Pakistan, most of the textile units
are family managed and they have not been able to absorb the
modern corporate culture in management and human resource
Lastly, it is evident that Pakistan is way behind regional
countries in the export of goods although it has some
distinct advantages. Even the small gains that it has made
so far in the world market have come more because of the
concessions of western countries accorded to Pakistan’s
textile and clothing exports in appreciation of its role in
the war on terror.
It is high time for the industry to focus on fashion trends,
quality/human resource management and improvement in working
conditions for workers. The government should also reduce
the cost of inputs so that industry can compete effectively
with its regional players.
Courtesy: The DAWN