Acute energy shortage has badly hindered export growth and restricted the textiles exports below the mark of USD 14 billion as it remained at USD 13.84 billion with growth of 3.9 percent in 2013-14.

Textile exports to European Union, however, increased by 18% but rest of the world registered negative growth of 3.5%. Sheikh Ilyas Mehmood, the chairman of Pakistan Textile Exporters Association, and Adil Tahir, vice chairman, said that textile sector could reap even greater benefits but severe energy crisis was the biggest issue besetting the industries that slowed down economic activities and restricted the figures under USD 14 billion.

In 2012-13, textile exports were USD 13.06 billion and the exporters were confident to cross the bar of USD 15 billion this year, but severe energy shortage, lack of necessary funds, deteriorating economic conditions and negative edge of competitiveness in regional and global markets badly affected the industrial activities, they said.

They appreciated 18 percent increase in textile exports to EU as it touched to USD 5 billion in outgoing fiscal. The factor behind this increase is just duty waiver facility by EU, they opined. GSP plus status, no doubt, a big achievement in outgoing year which provided some cushion to the sagging economy of the country, however, much will depend on the availability of a regular supply of gas and electricity to run the manufacturing units, they noted. Textile exporters will not be able to get complete benefit from the duty free access unless the government takes serious measures to resolve energy shortage that holds back the textile industry, they added.

The PTEA chairman expressed grave concerns over 3.5 percent negative growth in textile exports for other than EU. He termed declining trend of investment in textile sector compared to other regional countries a matter of serious concern. He urged to redesign and bring consistency in policies on taxes, ensure availability of energy, bring interest rate down and release the liquidity on drawbacks and refunds as textile sector is the only hope for revival of the economy.

With better access to the EU market, Pakistan is expected to add at least USD1 billion to textile exports every year and would achieve USD 25 billion  mark in five years. However, he continued to demand better energy supplies to achieve their export targets. Commenting on coming textile policy, he said that it should encapsulate the entire textile spectrum providing directions for financial and industrial facilities as well as removing hurdles and provision of necessary incentives to value added sector to enhance the textile exports. Key initiatives of previous textile policy were not fully implemented as the government discharged only Rs28 billion against the commitment of Rs188 billion, he added.

Ambitious export target was fixed without giving due thought sluggish industrial and trade business environment which remained unachieved. Textile policy also guaranteed to dispense regular supply of gas and power to the textile industry. However, it has failed to provide this as large number of textile units have shut operations due to energy constraints, resulting in huge loss to the industry.

The PTEA chairman urged the government to resolve the crisis as challenges like energy crisis, high interest rate, liquidity crunch, and financial stress is holding this mainstay of national economy back from growing up to full potential.

The government should concentrate on some truly visionary steps and address genuine concerns of the industry with innovation and extraordinary solutions in the upcoming textile policy, he demanded.