As the previous five-year textile plan comes to an end in June, the government has announced a new one to take its place, in an attempt to boost textile exports. The previous plan was announced by Yusuf Raza Gillani, and promised to boost exports to $25 billion from $9.6 billion. With a month left till his stated deadline and the export tally of textiles not moving beyond $13 billion, it seems the PPP failed to deliver on their promise. The PML-N thinks it can do better, and even had an explanation for the PPP’s failure, which was mainly predicated on not releasing the funds allocated to boost the industry. The PML-N is slightly less ambitious than its predecessors and will only be aiming to double the amount of exports to $26 billion in the next five years.

The new policy aims to increase exports in finished goods instead of relying on selling raw materials. The government has announced that imported textile machinery for finished goods will be subsidised and interest rates for new investors into the sector will be reduced. Pakistan is one of five countries in the world that have the entire textile value chain, from cotton farming and production to finished garments. Making value addition the main priority of the policy is sensible considering that a portion of the finished textile products in this country are low on quality and not standardised. Competing in the international market will require the rectification of both these issues.

Even with the energy crisis, Pakistan managed to increase its textile exports by 7% in the last 10 months. The GSP Plus status was a major contributing factor, but there is only so much that can be produced with limited capacity. If the government is serious about prioritizing finished textile goods for exports, then the industry must be provided with a regular supply of energy that allows it to operate at maximum capability, and it will also need to impose a more stringent system of quality control, that will help in improving the demand for Pakistani textiles in the international market.