ISLAMABAD, July 9: The government would not be able to achieve the target of $15 billion set for textile exports for 2011-12, the National Assembly was informed on Monday.

In a written reply, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim listed four major reasons which hindered achieving the textile export target: decrease in cotton prices worldwide; non-availability of gas to textile units; shortage of electricity; and increase in cost of production due to inflation.

He further informed the assembly that exports to the tune of $8.6 billion were recorded from July 2011 up to March 2012, indicating that the target was not likely to be achieved. The government had set the export target of $10 billion during 2010-11 which was surpassed by $4 billion, he said.

The minister stated that several measures were being taken for greater market access through local and foreign exhibitions, and the ministry had planned to participate in 16 international exhibitions during 2012-13.

Fahim informed the house that the ministry was focusing on exploring the feasibility of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) and foreign trade agreements (FTAs) to enhance the export of garment sector.

Trade agreements with several countries were in the pipeline, while FTA with Singapore, PTA with Indonesia and a joint study for FTA with Brunei were in the process, he said in the written reply.

Pakistan, he said, was exploring the possibility of making some arrangements with the Andean Community (CAN) which is a trade bloc comprising South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The commerce minister also informed the National Assembly that Pakistan was negotiating a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and two rounds of negotiations have already been completed.

The PTA with Mauritius is now leading towards a free trade agreement for which negotiations were in process. An FTA with Jordan was also in process, he said.

He said that Pakistan has been traditionally trading with North America, European Union and Middle Eastern countries. However, a shift has taken place in the identification of new market other than our traditional markets.

Pakistan’s exports since 2007-08 has not only increased to country’s traditional markets but also has shown substantial increase in the regions of Central America, South America, Eastern Europe excluding EU, Africa, ECO, Saarc, Asean and Oceania.

About trade with India, he said that the two countries were in the process of normalising bilateral trade relations by removal of non-tariff barriers and by building the confidence level of Pakistani exporters.