Pakistan, apart from enjoying the pride of having world’s second highest mountain peak K2, is also the 27th largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power and the 48th largest in absolute dollar term. Named as the top reformer in its region and top 10 reformers, globally, by World Bank in year 2005, Pakistan has a semi-industrialized economy that mainly encompasses textiles, chemicals, food processing, agriculture and other industries. The Ministry for Textile Industry was set up on 2nd September, 2004 with appointment of Mr Mushtaq Ali Cheema as the First and Former Minister. Currently, Mr Rana Farooq Saeed Khan is the Federal Minister for Textiles. He was elected to the National Assembly from Samundri, Faisalabad in the general elections held in February 2008. He is a well known politician from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and was previously elected several times to Punjab Assembly as well District Assembly. He has served in Punjab Cabinet and as Tehsil Nazim, Samundri. Mr Khan was a well known students’ leader while attending the Punjab University. Throughout his political career he has fought for people’s rights and struggled for establishment of democratic order in Pakistan. It was under his leadership that the Government announced the first ever textiles policy that aims to create a fully integrated, efficient and modern value-chain covering all sub-sectors of the textiles industry. The policy has been lauded by all segments of the textiles sector and business community in general. In an interview with Face2Face team, hon'ble Minister Mr Rana Farooq Saeed Khan shares more about Strengths and Challenges of Pakistan textile industry, and his Ministry's efforts in industry's welfare.
Face2Face feels honor to welcome you on this talk, Mr Khan! To begin with, we would request you to share a word on significance that textile and related sectors hold in the economy of Pakistan.
Textile sector is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It contributes around 8% of the GDP, employs nearly 40% of the industrial labor force and claims a share of about 60% of country’s exports. In the context of extended value chain, textiles sector also affects rural population as cotton is one of the leading crops and cultivated by a significant part of farming community.
So, how would you like to draw an overall picture of Pakistan’s present day textile industry?
Textile is the backbone of the economy of Pakistan. We are producing the 4th largest crop in the world at around 12-13 million bales, but consume more than 16 million bales, which makes us the third largest consumer of cotton in the world. We have the complete value-chain in this sector, from ginning to spinning, weaving, processing, and home textiles, woven and knitted garments. However, the sector is facing some critical imbalances in this value-chain. Although, our spinning sector is most advanced, commensurate development has not taken place in the downstream sector. Our weaving is mostly done by inefficient and outmoded local power looms and the share of shuttles looms is very low. Similarly, there are technical bottlenecks in our processing industry that needs not only more capacity but significant additions in technical expertise. For these reasons, we are wasting nearly half of our consumed-cotton in export of low value added products, a trend that must be reversed for Pakistan to take full advantage of its strength in the field of textiles.
There are also a number of factors that are affecting Pakistan’s exports performance in textiles. These include, restricted market access, preferential access to competitors, brand recognition, and lack of exports guarantee. Fashion design and fashion technology are two important areas that we need to develop to broaden the scope of value-added activities.
The first ever textiles policy, given by the government of Pakistan People’s Party in August, 2009, aims to address all the ills presently afflicting the textiles sector. The policy has been widely acclaimed for its comprehensive coverage, setting of clear direction for the future and commitment of the government to provide necessary support to remove the current imbalances in the value-chain. The policy has been actively implemented in close coordination with all the stakeholders.
Taking the discussion ahead; let me request you to enumerate the strengths of select industry in Pakistan, as well as Ministry’s agenda to capitalize on these strengths, and mitigate the challenges.
Clearly, the most obvious strength is our strong agrarian base, which produces the 4th largest crop in the world. By the way, our crop has the potential to increase manifold because we have yet to introduce BT cotton in Pakistan.
We are at an advanced stage of finalizing agreements with Monsanto and Chinese firms and hopefully, next crop will have the certified BT cotton seeds available for farming. We have the necessary spinning capacity; significantly above the size of our own crop, and mostly our technology in spinning is modern.
The bottlenecks, as I earlier alluded, start downstream of spinning industry, where technology is outmoded, capacity is insufficient and there are infrastructure bottlenecks also. Equally important, there are gaps in trained manpower, which is critically needed at the value-added segment of the chain.
The new policy will focus on modernization of machinery throughout the value-chain, remove bottlenecks in infrastructure and undertake major programs to eliminate shortages in skilled manpower.
Above all, the policy has envisaged promulgation of a law that would lay standards and benchmarks for the working of the entire textiles chain. Presently, there are no standards for inputs, outputs, conveyance, marking, labeling etc., which is a leading cause for loss of value for precious resources of the country. These standards will be set by a Board that will comprise both the leaders of the industry as well as experts in the field. Necessary administrative authorities will be provided to the ministry to ensure strict enforcement of standards so notified.
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.