LAHORE - The cotton yarn prices have increased by around 25 percent to reach Rs11500 per bag of 100 pounds from Rs9950 during the last one-and-a-half months due to cartelization of local manufacturers who are taking advantage of 10 percent additional regulatory duty on the import of yarn.

“The price of ‘10 count single yarn’ has increased by almost 25 percent and same is the case with other varieties of yarn, including ’16 count 30 yarn’ and ‘16 count 20 yarn’ the rates of which have also been raised at the same ratio,” observed Pakistan Readymade Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA)Chief Coordinator Ijaz Khokhar.

“Industry stakeholders have asked the government to take preventive measures, as the export target of $25 billion could not be achieved in the last fiscal year, 2015-16, due to high energy cost and discriminating import duties on industry raw material,” he said, and appealed to the government to abolish additional regulatory duty on cotton yarn so that it could be imported from anywhere in the world, as the whole value-added apparel sector had been hit hard, especially due to limited availability of cotton which was being exported without any hindrance.

“The government should also impose a ban on the export of raw cotton and cotton yarn for a short period till the arrival of new crop to rationalise the rates of yarn in the local market,” he demanded.

He said that since the apparel sector already had a very limited production line owing to lack of latest fabric varieties at local level, harsh duties had resulted in a significant decline in apparel exports.

Ijaz said that apparel industry was already confronted with low productivity due to shortage of cotton, high energy cost, and discriminating import duties on the industry’s raw material.

He asked PM Nawaz Sharif to personally direct policymakers to work for reduction in all input costs; otherwise the export-oriented industries would not only close down, but millions of workers would also lose their jobs.

He recalled that the PM had committed to hold meetings with people associated with export-oriented industries on a quarterly basis. “However, no such meeting has been held so for, leading to massive decline in exports,” he lamented.

“We don’t see any improvement in the present scenario; rather further deterioration is on the cards, as the textile ministry is still without its minister,” he apprehended.

He called upon the government to take drastic steps for enhancing exports and addressing the problems of the industrial sector.

“The value-added textile industry demands that the government appoints textile minister immediately, as uncertainty was negatively affecting the whole textile sector, which had more than 54 percent share in total exports of the country,” he stressed

PRGMEA chief pointed out that the textile had become the most important sector, especially after grant of the GSP Plus status to the country by the EU countries, as 80 percent items, having free market access, were related to this sector and, therefore, it needed an extraordinary focus.

Ijaz said that all the regional competitors, including India, China and Bangladesh had separate ministries for the textile sector, and Pakistan must follow suit.

“PRGMEA strongly feels that if the Ministry of Textile is given full powers, and a minister is appointed immediately, it can alone, in consultation with the stakeholders, reduce trade deficit by enhancing textile exports sharply, Ijaz said emphatically.