LAHORE - The textile industry refused to take back the strike call of July 11, as Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, who also got the charge of Commerce Ministry, could not give the assurance to the industry representatives to resolve the hassles of industry, it is learnt. The meeting participants remarked that the minister initially was not interested in meeting the textile industry representatives, who had given the July 11 strike call, however, the senior minister Punjab Raja Riaz insisted the minister to listen the grievance of the representatives of the industry who were accompanied with the Punjab minister. The strike call was originally given by the power loom mills of Faisalabad against rise in gas rates, electricity tariff and reshaping Research and Development (R&D) facility. The value-added apparel sector - both woven garments and knitwear manufacturers and exporters, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and APTA - has already announced to join the protest. The participants putting forward the agenda of bringing the gas prices down to previous rates besides electricity, which they demanded that the rates should not be increased till the industry stand up and maintaining the R&D facility from July 1. The participants said that the minister wanted the industry to wait till July 10 where he mater would be discussed in inter-ministerial meeting on 10th of July, however, the minister could not give assurance to the participants of any concrete development. The representative Naqi Bari chairman apparel forum of the apparel sector told the minister of their reservations to the suggestion that links the size of the subsidy to the quantity of exported goods because it discriminates the smaller exporters, who form almost 98 per cent of the industry, against the big exporters. They said that if appropriate steps could not be taken within July this year a lot of closure to be expected, which ultimately create lot of unemployment and will loose shares to fetch the export target fixed for 2008 - 2009, the garment sector representatives said. They said that valued added garment sector was very hopeful that ECC (Economic Coordination Committee) would approve the R&D Support Fund summary. Zubair Motiwala said, SME apparel sector is 91 percent of garment industry whose export are in slab of 1 - 3 Millions US$ and they providing the employment to 1.8 Millions people. He said thatIf this sector failed to survive huge unemployment would be created and also it will affect the Pakistan economy. He said that the apparel sector had been exporting 1-2-3 US$ millions are needy to have maximum percentage of R&D Support and bigger exporters slab over 200 US$ millions less percentage of R&D to be granted. Another representative association of the spinners - the All Pakistan Textile Association (APTA), has already announced to stop work for two days on July 11 and 12 against the gas price hike. A large number of spinners, who are members of Aptma, have expressed their willingness to join the Apta call unless the increase in the gas price for the industry is withdrawn. The textile industry insists that it is already staggering under the burden of rising cost of production due to increase in the interest rates and input prices and frequent long duration power cuts and is unable to compete with its regional rivals - India, China and Bangladesh - whose textile and apparel exporters are either being subsidised by their respective governments or enjoy some kind of preferential treatment from the importing countries.