Lahore - The apparel industry in Pakistan on Thursday said it had been facing severe shortage of cotton yarn at a time when international buyers were planning to place orders for Christmas.

“The local garment industry is not capable of entertaining the international buyers generally due to price factor and especially owing to artificial shortage of cotton yarn, created by the spinning as well as ginning industry, which are holding stock in the hope of further hike in rates,” Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) chief coordinator Ijaz Khokhar said.“Overburdened by more  than 11% multiple taxes and utility cost, the apparel industry demands at least 15% special support to stay in international export market, otherwise all current businesses will be shifted to other countries,” he cautioned. “We request the Prime Minister to issue directives to concerned ministries to focus especially on value-added sector and prepare a solid strategy to get the industry sustained,” he added. He said that apparel export sector was under severe pressure due to tough competition in the international market from the countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia.

“Squeezing the apparel export sector will lead to decline in export earnings coupled with unemployment in the country,” he warned.

“The current cotton scenario is pushing garment manufactures downhill because of non-availability of cotton yarn in domestic market, as mills are reluctant to quote us despite the fact that we are ready to purchase yarn at prevailing high market prices,” he said, and added, “Spinning mills have been holding stocks on the prediction that prices will go further up amidst high additional regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn.”

Khokhar said that garment exporters were getting nervous to make the shipment well in time due to artificial scarcity of raw material, forcing the buyers to go to other countries, offering lower rates, leading to the collapse of Pakistan’s industry.

“The spinning sector has always advocated for a free market mechanism, but where is the free market now?” he asked.

Industry demands immediate removal of regulatory duty, custom duty and other taxes on import of yarn form all countries. There is no harm to import raw material from anywhere because our cotton yield is also 30% less than the last year with lower prediction for current year. So, strong interaction is need to be developed between the government and stakeholders for rectifying the textile policy 2014-19

“The apparel industry is in fact the producer of finished textile products that need protection, as it contributes more than 80% to the total textile exports and employs up to 38% of the total workforce of the country. The textile export of Bangladesh is touching $26 billion without growing a single cotton bale and completely depending on the imported yarn, he added.