PRGMEA wants separate Apparel Policy to grab share in U.S future market

PRGMEA wants separate Apparel Policy to grab share in U.S future market

LAHORE, MAR 27: /DNA/ – Calling for the revision of the Textile Policy, the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has urged the government to present a separate five-year ‘Apparel Policy’ detaching the garment sector from textile and giving it an independent status in the aftermath of expiring GSP Plus status and opening up of new opportunities in view of the U.S International Trade Commission’s (ITC) report on competitiveness of Pakistan’s apparel industry to be submitted at the end of August this year.

PRGMEA central chairman Mubashar Naseer Butt, appreciating the government’s urgent response to the U.S ITC report on competitiveness of apparel industry of Pakistan, observed that the move holds significant implications, presenting a valuable opportunity for Pakistan’s apparel industry to enhance its export because the U.S major focus is also on apparel import from Pakistan. So, we need to strengthen this sector, giving it an identity like the rest of the world does, as the EU country’s single demand is also just apparel products not the raw material or fabric.

The International Trade Commission of the U.S, during the recent hearing, also put this question, asking the participants as to why Pakistan exports raw material instead of making value-addition, as it is capable of doing this, he added. He said the textile industry is the most important manufacturing industry in Pakistan, with a relatively complete industrial chain- from raw cotton, cotton ginning, spinning, clothing, printing and dyeing to garment manufacturing.

PRGMEA central chairman observed that we are grateful to the whole team from Pakistan to prepare a strong case, presenting it in a befitting manner before the U.S International Trade Commission along with the PRGMEA, as it would prove to be a stepping stone for the Pakistan apparel export. “So far, the team of Pakistan has done a good job– a well-coordinated work of politicians, bureaucracy and private stakeholders.”

Mubashar Naseer Butt advocated for a launch of a new and totally independent apparel policy in line with the textile policy for the next five years, besides constituting an Apparel Council at federal level, as the formulation of sector-wise policies is the only remedial solution to avoid decline and stabilize textile exports. “We ask the government to review its textile policy and introduce an apparel policy because our issues are completely different. We have no particular sales tax issue and we are labour intensive and a major employment generator as compared to the textile sector,” he added.

The garment sector has the immense potential to create jobs with comparatively low investment and less energy needs, as it generates four times the employment at one-fourth of the energy consumption compared to other textile sectors. Countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia are grabbing a major share in the global garment market, while Bangladesh and India are also preparing themselves to pick up greater share, he said.

He highlighted that the U.S is the largest export destination for Pakistan, as our apparel exports constitute around 85% of total exports to the US, and it can be enhanced significantly if we exploit this new opportunity fully.

It is to be noted that Pakistani representatives testified about the comparative advantage of the apparel sector before the U.S International Trade Commission. This was a public hearing by the ITC on the export competitiveness of the apparel industries in the South Asian countries including Pakistan in the U.S market.

PRGMEA EC member and former chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas, who was representing PRGMEA in the hearing, pointed out that it could be a strategic opportunity for Pakistan to showcase the strength and potential of our apparel industry, believing that a well-crafted response from our end could lead to positive outcomes for our trade relations.

Sajid Minhas said that presently Pakistan has very little share of the U.S market in the apparel sector, because they are subject to applicable MFN tariffs of up to 38.3%.

“It is the first step to get duty-free access to the U.S market and the government should also support the private sector, taking effective steps for making the value-added textile industry competitive and vibrant in the US market.”

Stressing the need for establishing an ‘Apparel Council / Committee’ he said that it would include both the public and private sector to monitor the apparel sector’s all activities and policy making for escalating the country’s exports. He also called for giving special attention to manmade fiber in context of its huge demand in the U.S market.

In the new apparel policy, we also need to enhance manmade fiber capacity because there is great potential for it in Pakistan. We need to make strategies with the help of the government on the issue of how we attract investment further in this regard.

Sajid Minhas added that we have to encourage the young male and female entrepreneurship, enabling them to play their instrumental role in strengthening national exchequer, as the country has a great potential and our association’s members can enhance the exports, by bringing innovation in the products.

“Finally, the U.S is giving us an opportunity to trade and not depend on aid through the ITC report, which will be submitted by 30th August. Now, it depends upon the government how they lobby and pursue to encourage the U.S government to open discussion for a possible tariff-free agreement on apparel export from Pakistan,” he concluded.