LAHORE  - Pakistan could utilize only three textile categories out of total 73 types relaxed by the EU countries for duty-free import from Pakistan in 2013.

“The government has to relax import policy to empower value-added textile industry to get the maximum benefit of GSP Plus Status, as the country has no raw material except cotton. Garments of generation III & IV is challenge for Pakistan, as presently, we are making just generation I or II garments mainly due to lack of raw material amidst high duties on import.”

Value-added textile industry representatives said that presently our competitor Bangladesh is enjoying duty-free import of every raw material. As a result, Bangladesh value-added textile exports have surged to $26 billion without producing a single bale of cotton while Pakistan has never crossed the garment export figure of $4.5 billion, they added.

“With strict import policies in Pakistan, the local garment industry is not fully prepared to take advantage of duty-free access to the EU market under GSP plus status mainly due to shortage of raw material,” observed Jawwad A Chaudhry, the newly-elected senior vice chairman of PRGMEA North Zone.

Jawwad Ch, who has resumed the charge recently, said the country’s garment industry comprises of small and medium scale units, producing high-end fashion products. These units are unable to utilise full potential due to unfavourable import policies. “A duty-free import of synthetic blends and cotton fabrics can double the apparel and sportswear exports, as both the raw materials are not manufactured in Pakistan,” he said.

The SVC said that small trims, carrying no commercial value, should also be duty-free to discourage delays. He said minimum import duties will make our products competitive under the GSP Plus status from the EU.

The outgoing central chairman of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association Sajid Saleem Minhas viewed that energy crisis has already been hit hard the Punjab-based value-added industry and demands attention from the policymakers.

Sajid Minhas expressed his disappointment over the FBR delaying tactics, as no company has get refund for 2 per cent sales tax on purchases of raw material for export since Feb 2013 while refund claims of billions of rupees of 2010 are also pending yet. He said that revenue generation through taxes is not a good approach by keeping the value-added textile industry hostage.

Meanwhile, the PRGMEA also elected its new members of the zonal managing committee for north, included Ijaz Khokhar, Nasir Iqbal, Luqman Amin, Mubashar Naseer Butt, Javed Iqbal Bhatti and Muhammad Bashir. The newly-elected SVC said that it was an honour for him to assume the office of the Senior Vice Chairman for the year 2013-14. He paid tributes to the outgoing central chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas.