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LAHORE: The local cotton market on Friday remained dull while the trading volume remained low. Cotton Analyst Naseem Usman told that the rate of cotton in Punjab and Sindh is in between Rs 18000 to Rs 21,000 per maund.

The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) on Thursday while felicitating newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Minister for Commerce & Textile Naveed Qamar, suggested the new government to initiate lobbying for continuity of GSP Plus status, besides implementing new Textile and Apparel Policy in its true spirit through revival of Pakistan Export Promotion Board.

PRGMEA chief coordinator Ijaz Khokhar and regional chairman Sheikh Luqman Amin observed that the largest value-added textile exporters’ body, representing the majority of SMEs in the country, welcomes the new PM and appreciates his selection of Naveed Qamar to assign him the vital Ministry of Commerce & Textile.

Sheikh Luqman Amin observed that Naveed Qamar’s appointment would help boost country’s exports, especially of the value-added textile, while all the macro and micro issues of the trade and commerce would be addressed.

Ijaz Khokhar suggested the new government to initiate work on lobbying for the renewal of Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status for Pakistan from the European Union well before time to sustain exports growth, as the end of duty-free facility would damage the exports growth volume by at least US three billion dollars annually.

He made an appeal to the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar to get personally involved in this issue of national importance, giving directives to all stakeholders, including foreign, finance, commerce and industries ministries at federal level while environment, human rights, women development and labour departments at provincial level, besides taking the value-added apparel sector exporters onboard to devise a strategy to influence the EU countries for renewal of the GSP Plus status for Pakistan.

PRGMEA regional chairman stressed that the government should use its diplomatic relations to win extension in the GSP Plus status, as it is impossible for Pakistan to compete the regional countries especially Bangladesh, India and Vietnam, as the earlier countries’ cost of production is comparatively low while the latter has preferential trade agreement with the EU.

Regarding Textile & Apparel Policy 2020-25, Ijaz Khokhar added that the apparel policy has already approved in 2022 after a long time which now needs implementation in its true spirit, as we have already lost one year.

President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has termed the ever-decreasing cotton production as a direct threat to the economic security of the country, as cotton is one of the most significant cash crops and, above all, it provides indigenous raw material for the country’s largest exportable product category, namely textiles.

Additionally, textiles exports are all set to cross the $20 billion mark in the outgoing fiscal year. However, cotton production has been reduced to 6-7 million bales per year, he added.

Sheikh said that Pakistan’s textiles products could become much more competitive, provided the entire amount of the raw material required is produced domestically or at least resumption of production of the previous levels of 10-12 million bales per year is ensured. He added that importing 1 million bales results in the outflow of $1 billion of precious foreign exchange.

The FPCCI chief explained that 60% cost of producing the textile products lay with the raw material of cotton. “Therefore, cotton is our lifeline as far as the lion’s share of our exports is concerned.

“Producing more cotton will also strengthen our foreign exchange reserves, improve abysmal trade balance, and put a stop to the incessant rupee depreciation,” he said.

Khawaja Muhammad Zubair, chairman of the Karachi Cotton Association, maintained that lack of governmental support and non-availability of certified and high-quality cotton seeds were also hampering cotton production in the country.

He added that, given the upward trend in export orders and domestic consumption, the total cotton requirement of the country might climb to 17 million bales, and, Pakistan simply cannot afford to import 10 million bales of cotton.

The Spot Rate remained unchanged at Rs 20,500 per maund. Polyester Fiber was available at Rs 290 per kg.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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