And, how about capitalizing potential of handloom/handicraft sector? Inparticularly Carpets: it is also a sector for opportunities for Pakistan, isn't it?
Undoubtedly, these are very important sub-sectors, and Pakistan has had a good track record of exports of carpets. Both these sectors have been included in the textiles policy and work is in progress to design specific interventions in these sub-sectors so that these are rejuvenated. Traditional textiles, including handlooms, need to be protected and their products provided support for exports. We are committed to support this sector.
Please apprise us more about this new textile policy and its developments so far?
As I stated earlier, the policy comprehensively covers the textiles sector and recognizes the ills presently afflicting its performance. We have nearly issued all the SROs required to be issued under the policy. Several major initiatives such as training of some 500,000 workers over a five year period, setting of clusters for small weavers, cotton yards for trading of cotton and effluent treatment plant for a cluster of processing industries are in an advanced stage of approval after which they will be launched.
I may also point out that the implementation of the policy is carried out through close coordination with the industry. There is a Textiles Policy Implementation Liaison Committee that I head and comprises leading representatives from the entire textile chain and it meets every month to ensure that the policy implementation does not face any snags.
Sir, as you well said above, up-gradation of technology, infrastructure, and skilled manpower is need of time for this industry in Pakistan; so, what all policies have been undertaken on this front?
Ministry of Textiles Industry is working to provide state of the art infrastructure to the textile industry. In this regard, three garments cities are under construction, in addition to a modern textiles city in Karachi. The idea is to provide best possible infrastructure to the sector. As the textile sector of country is totally in the private sector, therefore, technological advancement is primarily the responsibility of the entrepreneurs.
Similarly, we plan to bring more such projects in other cities of the country, which will be implemented through public-private partnership. The policy also envisages contribution to existing industries that are suffering from lack of adequate infrastructure. One such initiative, which is imperative for meeting compliance standards, is to establish effluent treatment plants for the processing industries.
A nation-wide survey is currently underway to map the entire textiles industries so that a national project to provide this support can be designed and implemented. In the meanwhile, whenever a group or cluster of industries, contiguously located in an industrial estate, approaches the ministry, a specific project will be launched, as is currently done in Faisalabad.
Currently, Europe is putting in rigorous efforts for automation of garment manufacturing through various projects under LEAPFROG. How do you envisage its repercussions on your textile industry?
As you know value-added textiles sector is highly labor intensive. In places like India and Pakistan, textiles sector is the mainstay of industrial employment. Undoubtedly, new challenges on job opportunities in the sector will be posed by automation of garments manufacturing, and we should prepare today for effectively meeting these challenges. At the outset, we should be ready to adapt the new technologies, to maintain our competitive advantage. We will have to invest substantially more in re-training our work force so that either they may remain in the sector with increased efficiency or adopt new areas of specialization.
However, while acknowledging the challenges emerging on this front, let’s also be clear that our real advantage emanates from nothing other than production of cotton. We should formulate policies to ensure that all cotton is consumed at home and in increasingly higher value added products.
True. Industry would definitely make a note of this. And, now lastly; which all new areas are your textile exporters likely to explore in near future? What role would your ministry play in it?
Our exporters are keen to have greater access to key international markets, removal of discriminatory policies of importing countries and elimination of various distortions that militate against their competitive advantage. They are also looking for support in introducing Pakistan brand in world markets, export guarantee scheme and support in exploration of new markets. The new policy envisages initiatives in all these areas and we will have specific schemes introduced for this purpose. As for market access, Pakistan is currently in talking to both EU as well as USA for seeking appropriate changes in their existing trade regimes with Pakistan.
Fibre2fashion extends best wishes for all your projects, Mr Khan! Thanks a lot for valued insights and precious time.
Pleasure.####### Click here to view previous interview with Textile Ministry of Pakistan
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.