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KARACHI: Pakistan's knitwear sector beat the Covid-19 daunting hurdles, its export has grown by over 12 percent in the present fiscal year 2020-21, exporters and official figures said on Saturday.

Knitwear, also called hosiery, exports scaled up by 12.30 percent during Jul-Oct 2020-21 to $1.183 billion, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics depicts.

Despite the Covid-19, the knitwear sector fetched the highest amount of foreign exchange of $1.183 billion for the country, higher from all other textiles exports, exporters said.

In comparisons, this sectors exports are up by 25 percent that of the readymade (woven) garments, 32 percent of bedwear and a mammoth 318 percent of towel, figures outlined.

"Export of knitwear surged from $1.053 billion to $1.183 billion. Knitwear garment sector is maintaining top position in the entire textile group and groups of other sectors," Central Chairman Riaz Ahmed, Chairman (SZ) Tariq Munir and Chairman (NZ) Farrukh Iqbal said.

The knitwear sector includes knitted products of Hoodies, Shirts, T-Shirts, Jersey, Pullover, Socks, Trousers, Jackets, Gloves, Women Blouse etc..

Lauding exporters of knitwear sector for the immense growth and their hard work despite Covid-19 challenges, they said that the government stepped up all necessary efforts to achieve a milestone increase.

If the government gives genuine consideration to the knitwear sector's proposals and address all their problems and issues and assure smooth availability of basic raw material, this sector can post further growth, they said.

They sought availability of cotton yarn and uninterrupted supply of utilities: gas, power and water around the year to augment its export approximately from 30 to 50 percent annually with continuous support from the government.

"Export of knitwear in the World worth US $237 billion during 2019 as per trade statistics of Trade Map and Pakistan's share in the exports of knitwear sector was US $2.79 billion meaning that Pakistan's share is just 1.17 percent," they said.

"We feel that this share needs to be increased to 4 to 5 percent with mutual planning of exporters and Government," they said. They also termed the knitwear sector as the lifeline of exports.

They highlighted that it is an alarming situation that cotton production has decreased from 6.85 million bales to 4.02 million bales, showing a decrease of 41.27 percent, according to the PCGA report, till November 15, 2020.

They predicted that this shortfall will bring dreadful effects on textile exports specially knitwear (hosiery) sector which is labour-intensive sector and provides approximately 40 percent of urban employment particularly to female workforce.

Therefore, government should allow duty free import of cotton yarn as the government has already allowed a duty free import of cotton.

They lauded the government particularly the FBR for improvement in refund processing FASTER system by transforming to FASTER plus as the system is processing the refunds efficiently in 42-72 hours without human involvement.

While, statement of details of refund claims of exporters available at the dashboard of MIS does not reflect missing amount. We also suggest that the FASTER plus system should also reflect the missing amount at the dashboard of MIS.

Customs Rebate Claims have also been paid electronically which is commendable, however, some claims of customs rebate are still being processed manually.

They believe that 100 percent claims of Customs Rebate should be processed automatically. Drawback of Local Taxes & Levies (DLTL) / Duty Drawback of Taxes (DDT) claims and Technology Up-Gradation Fund (TUF) Claims has piled up which needs to be cleared promptly to ease liquidity position of exporters.

They demanded that temporary import / export facilitation schemes - Export Oriented Units, Manufacturing Bond and DTRE needs to be simplified to enable the small and medium exporters to avails the benefits of these schemes to enhance productivity and capture more share of world exports.

They also urged the government that it is imperative that exporters, here in Pakistan, should be provided a level playing field and similar benefits / relief which the exporters of neighbouring / competing countries are getting, to compete in the international market, should be provided to exporters in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020