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KARACHI: A steep rise in sea freight, besides shortage of cargo vessels and containers, has increased shipment delivery span by up to 90 days, according to the apparel sector.

Freight charges of the seaborne trade have soared by 700 percent with shortage of containers and vessels that brought about a slowdown in cargo delivery from 45 days to 90 days, it said.

Amid such crisis, the value textile sector of Pakistan is facing cotton and yarn import problems for delayed shipments to meet the export orders deadline, the sector added.

“The shortest route to import cotton and cotton yarn is from India through land route and other from Uzbekistan through Afghan transit,” Javed Bilwani, chairman, Pakistan Apparel Forum, said on Tuesday.

Import of cotton and its yarn should be permitted from India at par with the medicines already being brought via Wagah border land route, he said.

The country’s value-added textile exporters found an opportunity to capitalise on a better Covid-19 situation in Pakistan compared to its competing nations to make more apparel exports to the world markets, he said.

But now, he said, improving Covid-19 conditions in competing nations like Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam is setting a stiff challenge to Pakistan globally since the local market offers an unviable price for the inputs.

In all the textile exporting countries of the world, Bilwani said, prices of cotton and its yarn, electricity, gas, water, labour wages, seaport charges and local transportation are comparatively higher in Pakistan.

Still textile exporters with their efforts are able to export textile products worth $15.40 billion during the fiscal year 2020-21 from a better Covid situation in the country, as industries were exempt from the lockdown, he added.

The textile sector contributes more than 60 percent in the total national exports and earns the highest foreign exchange, he said, adding that the sector provides huge employment but lacks a deserving attention of the government.

“The government must accord priority and attention to the cotton production, cultivation area and cotton yield in order to support the entire value added textile chain because cotton and cotton yarn are basic raw materials for the survival and development of textile export sector,” he said.

A fall in cotton production made it hard for the country’s apparel sector to face unavailability of the cotton yarn on the local market, he said.

The rising crisis demands an immediate attention of the government to step up efforts for short, medium and long term measures with a concrete policy to increase cotton production locally, he said.

He said that the government should provide free top quality GM cotton seeds to the farmers. The seeds have a toxin that kills selective insects and helps crops for a better output.

Fertiliser and pesticides should also be provided to the growers on subsidized rates by the government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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