ISLAMABAD (APP) - Pakistan's exports during July-April period of the current financial year 2007-08 stood at over 15.255 billion as compared to over $ 13.847 billion in the corresponding period of previous financial year, registering an increase of 10.17 per cent. According to FBS figures, exports in the month of April were recorded at over US $ 1.808 billion which also showed an increase of 23.09 per cent when compared with over US $ 1 .469 billion of the corresponding period of last year. The exports worth over US $ 1.808 billion realized in the month of April 2008 also witnessed a growth of 1.24 per cent when compared with the exports of over $ 1.786 billion achieved in March 2008. The imports in July-April 2007-08 stood at US over 32.061 billion as compared to over US $ 24.993 billion during the same period of previous fiscal. Whereas, the imports in month of April 2008 were recorded at over $ 4.009 billion as compared to over $ 2. 573 billion realized in corresponding month of previous fiscal. Balance of trade, which was over -$11.145 billion in July-April period of 2006-07, has reached to over US -$ 16.805 billion in the same period of current financial year. Meanwhile, Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) has sought several incentives including raise in R & D support, cut in export refinance rate, taxes and gas tariff and compensation against travel expenses to bail out apparel sector from current crisis and survive international competition. This was stated by the chairman PAF, M Naqi Bari while addressing a joint press conference here at PHMA House Saturday. Jawed Bilwani of Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA), Bilal Mullah and Shehzad Salim of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Dr Shehzad Arshad of Pakistan Cotton Fashion Apparel Manufacturers Association and Rafiq Godial of Pakistan Knitwear & Sweaters Association also spoke on the occasion. He said PAF is a joint platform of four apparel and garment associations which contribute 23 percent of country's total exports and employee almost 40 percent of the labour force and fetch 3.3 billion in foreign exchange in 2006-7. Bari said that R & D rate should be raised from 6 percent to 9 percent for a period of at least five years to enable this vital sector to prepare for the tough time ahead. In addition, R& D facility should be extended to 75 countries instead of 32 states, he added. PAF Chairman pointed out that due to R & D support, garment exports has increased by 40 percent in USA, 33 percent in EU and 17 percent in Australia. Similarly, the export refinance rate for Garments sector which has increased to 7.5 percent, should be lowered to the level of year 2002 where it was averaging at 2.5 percent. He said that cut in refinancing is all the more important keeping in view the burden of multiple taxes and levies on garment sector which is about 11 percent including 1 percent withholding tax, 4.5 percent indirect taxes and 0.25 percent direct export development surcharge on the exports. He said that exporters have to travel abroad at the demand of foreign buyers who avoid visiting Pakistan due to security concerns. 'We urge the government to share some of the traveling expenses of exporters to reduce our cost. Moreover, we also urge the government to provide duty access to our products in USA, European Union and Japan through free trade agreements so that Pakistani exporters enjoy a level playing field, he added. Bari pointed out that 400 units of hosiery and 300 of woven garments have been closed due to present crisis facing textile sector. He made it clear that textile sector can survive only if value added sector Garment sector takes a lead. Pakistani textile sector was far behind from our competitors Bangladesh, India and China in terms of incentives including cash and Capital subsidies, reimbursement against mark up rates and duty free access. Criticising SBP'b Governor, Bari said that instead of pointing finger at the entire textile sector, the Central Bank Chief should specifically mention the names of culprits. Citing a data, he said that Pakistan's share in global garment exports was 1.3 percent while Bangladesh enjoys 2.8 percent share India 3.3 percent and china 30 percent.