ISLAMABAD: Textile exporters are not impressed with the commerce ministry’s offer to use the offices of Pakistan’s trade officers posted in embassies to help dissuade foreign buyers from cancelling their orders.
The offer was made by Commerce Secretary Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera in a tweet on Monday. In response to that, trade officers from Pakistani missions in New York and The Hague tweeted their phone numbers and email addresses, inviting exporters to get in touch.
According to some associations of textile exporters, close to $1.3 billion worth of orders from foreign buyers have either been cancelled or postponed.
They argue that governments of their competitor countries have issued appeals to these foreign buyers from the highest levels, such as the prime minister and feel that trade officers in the embassies wield little to no clout to be able to change the minds of giant corporations.
Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Chief Coordinator Ijaz A Khokhar says the message needs to be sent from the highest level, perhaps even the prime minister.
He said in India and Bangladesh appeals have been made to world buyers for not cancelling or deferring orders because it will affect the workers and would send more people below the poverty line. “The Indian textile minister posted a very strong message for the world buyers, such messages should go from our prime minister and commerce adviser,” commented Khokhar.
Regaining these orders is not an easy job, he points out, and the office of a commercial councillor does not possess the requisite clout.
Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Khurrum Mukhtar told Dawn that “there is no harm in making efforts in this regard”.
Order deferment or cancellation is happening in those stores which have closed down their operations in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, Mukhtar said. They include retailers like Inditex group, JCPenney, Macys, H&M, Kohls, Bed bath and beyond, Nike, Peacock, American eagle and IKEA.
In addition, buyers from the hoteling business have also deferred their imports from Pakistan. Airlines and the hotel industry are the prime victims of the coronavirus outbreak across the world.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020