LAHORE -  Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir has said that the PM’s incentive package for the exporters is not limited to just Rs180 billion as the government’s rebate might surpass this limit depending on higher exports volumes.

The minister was chairing the Federal Textile Board (FTB) meeting held here to look for ways to enhance exports with respect to Rs180 billion exports incentive package announced recently by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

All the stakeholders across the textile value chain beginning from ginners, weavers, spinners, bed sheet manufacturers and garment manufacturers made detailed presentations on current state of exports in their sectors and gave suggestions for improvements in the policies.

The federal textile secretary, commerce secretary, PRGMEA Chairman Ijaz Khokhar, APTMA Chairman Amir Fayyaz, PHMA Chairman Irfan Bawani and Vice Chairman Adil Butt also spoke on the occasion.

Dastgir said that incentive package is not unlimited and the government provides maximum funds in this regard, urging the industry to speed up its efforts to increase exports. The minister agreed to the proposal of the industry to establish a Pakistan Apparel Council in line with the Indian Apparel Council to promote the textile exports.

The minister informed that the PML-N government had already facilitated the exporters through zero rating, unprecedented cuts in exports financing rates, uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas and repeated reduction in electricity prices and assured the stakeholders of full government support.

PHMA Chairman Irfan Bhawani and Vice Chairman Adil Butt stated that in order to arrest the recent decline of exports in the sector, the Ministry of Commerce should schedule a new branding and marketing campaign to re-launch Pakistan in the export world with the country’s new and improved credentials. He said that the textile sector should be invited to provide their input in the campaign, which will use the traditional and new media to attract investors and importers to Pakistan.

Adil stressed the need for formulating a new sector wise aggressive marketing plan to enhance exports, getting the maximum benefit of GSP Plus status, as the country is facing constant decline in the export. He said that the government has to devise a long-term aggressive strategy to get benefits of GSP Plus status. He deplored that it seemed that Pakistan’s textile industry has failed to get even minimum benefits of the GSP Plus status merely because of the government’s lack of interest in this regard.

The PHMA vice chairman demanded cut in energy prices in line with the rates of regional countries including China and India. PRGMEA Chairman Ijaz Khokhar said that incentive package will only be beneficial if implemented efficiently. He requested the chairman to hold FTB meetings on a quarterly basis to ensure fastest implementations of the decisions.

He said, “Since the incentive package announced, the cotton yarn prices are surging 10 percent to 15 percent in different yarn counts which is making garments sector uncompetitive. Khokhar said that the government should also have removed 10 percent regulatory duty and 5 percent sales tax on import of yarn just as it removed duty and sales tax on imported cotton.

Regarding product diversification, the PRGMEA chairman said that currently the garment sector has a limited product line for export market due to non-availability of latest fabric locally. “Foreign buyers demanding new garments based on G3, G4 and technical fabric material. Due to excessive problems faced in importing fabric from IOCO and customs for re-export, the garments manufacturers excessively rely on local fabrics and hence our product lines are limited to denim and cotton twill products for export,” he added.

He said that the government should ease importation of fabrics and accessories which are used in re-export. This will help the garment industry (especially SMEs) to import new fabrics which are not available locally. Currently the DTRE procedure is very complicated due to which only large exporters use this scheme. By easing the DTRE regulations, the industry will be able to diversify its product base and venture into non-cotton based products which is a prime requirement for GSP Plus.

He demanded that the government should introduce the liberal import policy for raw materials for re-export like duty-free import of fabrics and accessories which are not being manufactured in Pakistan. In this way, the Pakistan’s garment manufacturers can increase the export of diversified products.

Appreciating the government’s efforts for CPEC, he said that CPEC Committee should be formed in consultation with the concerned association to taking care of the local industry so that domestic investor can reap the benefit of this mega project. “CPEC Business Wing needs to be established to safeguard the existing local industries as well international investors,” he added.

APTMA Chairman Amir Fayyaz welcomed the efforts and support of the government and ministry. He specially thanked the support extended by the commerce minister. He expressed confidence that in spite of challenging international environment Pakistani exporters have the ability to face the challenge and grow Pakistani exports.

On the occasion, Textile Secretary Hassan Iqbal said that the textile sector needs to upgrade its supply chain, improve productivity and maximise value-addition to be able to survive. He said the objectives of the Textile Industry Division are to formulate strategies and programme to enable the textile sector to meet these challenges and attain global competitive.