LAHORE - The most important thing along with the Apparel Park is to chalk out short-term and quick export marketing roadmap to enhance export, as the country has not achieved maximum benefit from the GSP Plus status granted by European Union in January this year because exports are on decline from the last five months.

The Pakistan Ready-made Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) newly-elected chairman Ijaz Khokhar while addressing the annual general meeting said that presently garment industry is completely out of focus, as the policy makers have no any interaction with the real stakeholders to make a road map of exploiting the GSP Plus fully.

The meeting was also attended by the new north zone chairman Naseer Malik, south zone chairman Jawed Suleman. Ijaz Khokhar, after assuming the charge of central chairman for 2014-15, congratulated all the newly-elected office-bearers and Managing Committee members. He stated that the zonal committees would be working as a unit in the larger interest of the industry. The Association would welcome the enabling environment provided by the government to the industry to avail opportunities under the GSP Plus status.

He urged the government to fulfil energy needs of the value-added textile industry, besides settling the political tension, as the two issues had been hitting hard the Punjab-based value-added industry and GSP Plus status would be of no use in present circumstances.

Besides improving law and order, controlling terrorism and providing non-stop gas and electricity supply, the government would have to relax import policy to empower value-added textile industry to get the maximum benefit of GSP Plus Status, as the country had no raw material except cotton, he noted.

The new chairman lamented that Pakistan could utilise only three textile categories out of total 73 types relaxed by the EU countries for duty-free import from Pakistan in 2013. With strict import policies in Pakistan, the local garment industry was 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, he added.  “It was estimated that due to GSP Plus there would be an increase of more than $1 billion exports to EU during 2013/2014. The 10-year GSP plus status for Pakistan by the European Union is a blessing for the country, which can revive industrial sector of Pakistan and create thousands of new jobs, as before GSP Plus, our export was facing stiff competition from China, India, Brazil, and Bangladesh.” After GSP Plus status to Pakistan these exports will now be duty free but unfortunately country’s exports had declined by 3.63 percent in August, 7.88 percent in July and 6.76 percent in June, 1.21 percent in May and 9.97 percent in April 2014 as compared to the same period of the last fiscal year.