Despite pandemic, knitwear exports pick up pace


Knitwear and hosiery exports increased 12.3% year-on-year in the first four months (July-October) of current fiscal year despite the global economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This textile sub-sector earned the highest amount of foreign exchange worth $1.183 billion for the country compared to earnings of $1.053 billion in the same four-month period of previous year.

According to statistics compiled by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the number was 25% more than exports of readymade or woven garments, 32% more than exports of bed wear and 318% more than exports of towels.

“The knitwear garment sector is maintaining the top position in the textile group and other groups,” remarked Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association Central Chairman Riaz Ahmed. PHMA South Zone Chairman Tariq Munir appreciated the government for taking all necessary measures for enhancing exports by prioritising export sectors and introducing separate gas and electricity tariffs for the five major export-oriented industries.

PHMA North Zone Chairman Farrukh Iqbal emphasised that if the government considered proposals of the knitwear sector, resolved all its problems, ensured smooth availability of basic raw material – cotton yarn – and uninterrupted supply of utilities, the sector could further enhance its exports by approximately 30-50% annually.

“Global exports of knitwear stood at $237 billion in 2019 as per trade statistics of the Trade Map and Pakistan’s knitwear exports came in at $2.79 billion, with a share of just 1.17%,” said Ahmed.

The south zone chairman called it an alarming situation that Pakistan’s cotton production had plunged from 6.85 million bales to 4.02 million bales, a decrease of 41.27% till November 15 this season, according to a report of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA).

“This shortfall will have a dreadful effect on textile exports, especially those of the knitwear (hosiery) sector, which is labour intensive and provides approximately 40% of urban employment, particularly to the female workforce,” said Iqbal.

“Therefore, the government should allow duty-free import of cotton yarn as it has already permitted duty-free import of cotton.”

The central chairman lauded the government, particularly the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), for improvement in refund processing by shifting from the FASTER to FASTER Plus system, which was processing refund claims efficiently within 42-72 hours without human involvement.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2020.

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