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Pakistan textile industry losing technological edge

Jun '12


Textile entrepreneurs in Pakistan are discontented over the country’s inability to keep pace with the advancement in textile technologies.
While other regional competitors like India and Bangladesh continue to invest in upgradation of their textile technologies, Pakistan has not made any significant stride on this front since 2008.
A meeting of entrepreneurs from different textile sub-sectors noted that the Governments of China, India and Bangladesh have sustained their focus on development of textile industries by extending several incentives for technology upgradation, like tax incentives and concessional mark-up on investment, despite their economies doing well for the past six years.
Owing to an urgent appeal from the textile industry, in April 2010, the Pakistan Ministry of Textiles did announce that it would back investment for textile machinery upgradation, by withdrawing up to five percent of bank mark-up on machinery loans, however, these measures were not implemented, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Group Leader, Gohar Ejaz, lamented.
He informed that according to the International Textile Machinery Federation (ITMF) statistics, even with low interest rates and no power shortages in 2005, Pakistan imported only over one million spindles, while China, India and Bangladesh imported 7.1 million, 1.4 million and 0.54 million spindles, respectively. 
In 2006, while China added 6.7 million spindles, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh added 2.8 million, 0.67 million and 0.43 million spindles, respectively. In 2007, as China, India and Bangladesh added 6 million, 3.74 million and 0.6 million spindles respectively, while Pakistan did not add any new spindle, Mr. Ejaz said.
He further informed that while India, China and Bangladesh continued their investments in the spinning industry, with Turkey and Indonesia joining in as new investors, Pakistan disappeared from the ITMF map since 2008.
APTMA Punjab Chairman Ahsan Bashir said the weaving industry, which was considered to be Pakistan’s most vibrant industry at a point in time, now operates at only 60 percent capacity.
According to the ITMF data, though Pakistan continued importing shuttleless looms from 2005 to 2007, the quantity was much below that of China, India or Bangladesh, while it completely halted its imports since 2008, Mr. Bashir added.
Voicing similar woes, leading knitwear exporter MI Khurram said that with 40 percent of the circular and flat knitting machines lying inoperative, entrepreneurs are vying for survival, and are in no position to add new machines. 
He further observed that the apparel industry utilizes much less power compared to spinning and weaving industries, but the power load-shedding burden borne by this industry is same as that faced by large scale textile enterprises.
According to Mr. Khurram, Pakistan is losing its textile technological edge to regional competitors, who are quite actively investing in state-of-the-art electronic flat knitting machinery, with China adding 54,800 electronic flat knitting machines in 2011, Bangladesh 4,475, Hong Kong 2,930, Turkey 2,150, and Italy 1,120.
He said that according to ITMF data, though there was a 37 percent rise in sales of electronic flat knitting machines in 2011, Pakistan did not purchase even a single of those machines.

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