ISLAMABAD: Textile and clothing exports contracted by 14.72 per cent year-on-year to $15.03 billion during the first 11 months of the outgoing fiscal year.

The decline in production is mainly attributable to a surge in the cost of production and a liquidity crunch, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Monday.

The export figures for May paint a bleak picture as they witnessed a sharp decline of 19.57pc to $1.32bn from $1.64bn in the corresponding month of the previous year.

The government is facing an uphill battle in meeting its export target, which could further exacerbate the strain on the country’s depleting foreign exchange reserves. The textile and clothing sector, a key contributor to exports, is grappling with multiple challenges.

These include soaring energy costs, delayed refunds, scarcity of raw materials, and a global decline in demand, despite the significant depreciation of the local currency. The combination of these factors is impeding the growth of exports and posing a serious threat to the country’s economic stability.

The textile export sector experienced a troubling trend of negative growth right from the beginning of the current fiscal year, except for a slight increase in August 2022 due to a backlog from the previous month.

The PBS data showed the exports of readymade garments shrank 10.28pc in value in 11MFY23 but grew by 46.38pc in quantity, while knitwear dipped 12.94pc in value but grew 9.34pc in quantity, bedwear posted a negative growth of 18.53pc in value and 22.61pc in quantity.

However, towel exports slightly decreased by 10.56pc in value and 12.93pc in quantity, whereas those of cotton cloth dipped by 16.87pc in value and 24.22pc in quantity.

Among primary commodities, cotton yarn exports declined by 33.75pc, while yarn other than cotton by 32.91pc. The export of made-up articles — excluding towels — dipped by 18.55pc, and tents, canvas and tarpaulin went up by 26.52pc in 11MFY23 from a year ago.

The import of textile machinery declined by 56.04pc in 11MFY23 — a sign that expansion or modernisation projects were not a priority.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2023

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