LAHORE - Textile industry is fast losing its strength in a situation when talks on Indo-Pak bilateral trade are near to finalisation without addressing the concerns of domestic industry by the local bosses.

Level-playing field for cross border trade by equalizing import duties in both countries must to resist flood of Indian textile products in the country, as there is a huge gap of levies structure in India and Pakistan,” said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) chairman Mohsin Aziz.

Talking to The Nation, APTMA chairman said that it is quite amazing that yarn and synthetic fibre are put in positive list whereas the Polyester Staple Fibre (PSF), the raw material for synthetics-based textile products, has been placed in the negative list.

He said the declining textile exports amidst unbearable interest rate regime and exposure of local industry to the Indian textile exports under normalization of trade arrangement would play havoc sooner.

According to him, the government should ensure level-playing field for cross border trade by equalizing not only import duties but domestic duties as well.

Expressing his concerns, he said there is a worrisome decline in textile exports both in value (22pc) and quantity terms in March 2012 comparing with the corresponding period, slashing down overall exports by $1 billion during first nine months of current fiscal year against same period last year.

For example, he said, the duty inclusive taxes on yarn is over 25pc in India as against 10pc duty on synthetic and zero percent duty on cotton yarn in Pakistan. Further, he said, the PSF should also be in the positive list with same duty structure. And if not, then the synthetic fibre and yarn should also be in the negative list. Mohsin said that in order to give Pakistan industry a fair chance for enhancing exports and also allowing India to enter in export to Pakistan on a level playing term. Otherwise, he said, it would lead to opening up of flood gates for Indian exports while Pakistan will not be benefiting from these new arrangements.

He said exclusion of PSF from the negative list of items not importable from India is necessary to ensure provision of this basic raw material to the textile industry specially in the present scenario of acute domestic demand-supply shortfall of more than 150,000 tons due to the complete shutdown of Dewan Salman Fibres Limited, one of the largest PSF manufacturers of the country. Exclusion of PSF from the negative list assumes an added urgency in view of the fact that value-added items of PSF are not on the negative list and are freely importable from India and as such a situation whereby value-addition in the country is discouraged.

Chairman APTMA said in spite of energy shortage and supply-side constraints the textile industry still manages to be internationally competitive. With the patronage of Ministry of Commerce we welcome the opening up of trade between the two countries and only wish for equitable and fair trading terms, he said, adding: To secure these terms we look forward to the Ministry of Commerce and urge to take up the issue with Indian Counterpart and also with the Ministry of Finance and Federal Board of Revenue to provide level playing field to the local industry.