Readymade garments (RMG) manufacturing has restarted production after the Pakistan government’s recent announcement of excluding the textile industry from lockdown to ensure monitory relief to the workers.
The move was widely appreciated among the textile and apparel industry. Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Regional Chairman Sohail A Sheikh and Chief Coordinator Ijaz Khokhar hailed the move at the same time voice promised to take necessary precautionary measures, as per the direction of the government and health experts to continue operations while ensuring workers safety.
This decision has come as a huge relief as Pakistan’s textiles and apparel, which profit from abundant raw materials – particularly cotton, and fabric inputs, account for most of Pakistan’s export earnings, 40% of the labor force, 46% of manufacturing, and 67% of exports, with the US being the top in a diversified market.
In the July to December 2019 period, Pakistan’s exports of ready-made garments amounted to US$1.41bn, representing an increase of 12.1% on exports of $1.26bn in the year-ago period, according to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
Both Sohail A Sheikh and Ijaz Khokhar said that trade and commerce activities were badly affected by COVID-19, hitting the workers the most.
The industry experts also urged the govt. to declare a stimulus package to ensure the continuousness of the apparel production process.
Pakistan also profits from zero duty on exports to the EU under the GSP+ scheme – although business is hindered by safety/security issues and the sector faces rising pressure from other Asian competitors.