ISLAMABAD -  The government has finally clubbed the textile division and commerce division in order to resolve the issues of the exporters and to boost country’s exports.

The government has taken the decision on Friday after announcing new federal cabinet. The government has appointed Pervaiz Malik as Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile. Meanwhile, Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari would be Minister of State for Commerce and Textile.

The Cabinet Committee on Restructuring (CCoR) in 2015 had proposed to club textile division and commerce division under the umbrella of Ministry of Commerce. The proposal was sent to then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. However, no decision was taken till formation of new federal cabinet. Sources said that the government has merged ministry of textile industry into commerce for reducing non-development expenditure and boost co-ordination between the two divisions.

The government established a separate Ministry of Textile Industry in September 2004 in order to give special intention to textile exports, which contributes 55 percent to the country's total exports. However, the textile sector’s stakeholders showed concerns on the decision. “It would hurt the pace of textile exports growth. Textile industry is a complicated and vast subject and it needs a separate ministry,” said an official of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association.

Meanwhile, the new minister for commerce would face several challenges including soaring trade deficit due to increase in imports and decline in exports. Pakistan’s trade deficit has recorded at historic level of $32.58 billion during last fiscal year (FY17 as against $23.9 billion of the proceeding year showing growth of 36.32 percent. This was the record level of trade deficit in Pakistan’s history.

The country’s imports have recorded at historic level of $53.02 billion during the FY17 as against $44.69 billion of the FY16 showing an increase of 18.67 percent. Pakistan’s imports have gone beyond $50 billion for the first time in the country’s history. However, the exports have registered a decline of 1.63 percent and recorded at $20.45 billion during previous financial year as compared to $20.79 billion of the preceding year.