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Knitwear industry has taken big strides.

Knitwear Industry has taken big Strides

Knitwear Industry has taken big strides Nasir Hussain Chairman, Pakistan Knitwear & Sweaters Exporters Association. The Knitwear industry has made tremendous progress since its inception; Facts and figures in this connection present a correct view and justify my contention as it is 100 per cent value added item. Beginning 1950 this Industry had only two or three units worth the name. It now has more than 650 units out of which 100 are in the organized sector and the number is increasing; When Knitwear Industry started it produced socks, Bunyan (known as T-shirts) and underwear. It is now producing all kinds of knitwears which include sweat shirts, T-shirts, Jerseys, Jogging suits, various undergarment, pants, shorts, infant suits, night dresses etc. So, without any error of description one can say that it has taken giant strides and has earned valuable foreign exchange for the country.

There are more than 12000 knitting machines of various kinds, including flat and circular knitting machines. Most of these machines are Pakistan made but some of them are Japanese and German machines. Besides, about 75 integrated units have their own dyeing and bleaching equipment, packaging and other such machines. All these machineries require human hands to operate them. Thus it is estimated that the knitwear industry employs over 100,000 workers including skilled and unskilled men and women of all ages and groups.

Without modern and latest machinery, we are losing competitive edge in the world market. What is keeping us put up in the world market is our cheap labour and self-sufficiency in cotton. But these things will not keep us long in the international trade. We definitely need modern equipment and especially computerized machinery. However, before going into computerization we need a well-knit infrastructure.

Woollen Industry has made no meaningful strides in respect of the availability of raw material in the wool tops. In the international market the woollen products are mostly blended made up computerized machineries meeting the most modern and futuristic designs. We have been pressing hard for a long time and making representations to the Government to allow free import of acrylic fibre and fabric.

Domestic Market Potential

In the domestic market there is ample potential of development, unfortunately a common man is ill-conceived about the advantages and utilization of knitwear products. The common man, I am talking about does not wear a simple T-shirt (Bunyan). He is happy with a rough "Kurta" or Kameez. In the high society, except for male who generally use T-shirt, women go for silken underwear and socks. These are centuries old habits which need to be changed. There has to be an awakening among both about the importance of exercises which shall prompt them to use either jogging suits or shorts & T-shirts. Similarly females should be educated to use knitted gowns and night dresses, etc. In terms of rupee devaluation and yen appreciation, the cost of machinery and spares and needles from Japan have increased manifold. Increase of duties etc. have further broken the back of this industry. In fact whatever advantageous edge we used at have in the past has been taken away by the inflationary pressures and current hikes. However, we are fortunate and are thankful to the Government, in not been imposed with 12.5 per cent sales tax. We have not been getting the quality yarn openly specially 49 or 60 counts, which is a must for our knitwear industry. Whatever is available in the local market is at exorbitant rates which a small manufacturer cannot dare use. That's why for the past several years we have been hammering hard to stop the export of yarn, nothing has succeeded.


There are several things in modernization of the knitwear Industry. First of all is the cost of machinery. Due to heavy inflationary pressures on Pakistani rupee, constant increase in the current of other countries and heavy taxes and duties are but a few hurdles in modernization. Another important factor is that our exporters do not have the necessary funding facilities, i.e. advertisement of bank loans with minimum markup rates and without guarantees. Enormous paper work and desk to desk clearances in Government agencies are another element.

That's why it is necessary to have one window operation. Unless Government allows some tax holidays, modernization, it will be very difficult, if not totally out of question, to develop the industry.

Frequent power and gas failures are effecting very seriously. My personal estimate is that an hours breakdown causes at least an hour and a half's stoppage of production. If such constant stoppages are added and multiplied, it is estimated that failure of electricity costs the industry at least Rs. One billion worth of production. Definitely exports suffer, LCs expire, buyers refuse to revise or renew it. Such things bring a bad name to the country.

There is always a shortage of trained and skilled workers in our industry. Our Association had been feeling the need of a training institute. We have now started such an institute where about 30 males and females are undergoing basic training, and later on they will receive education on modern automatic machines. Inshaallah, within two years there will be sufficient number of trained and skilled group of workers for the industry's lifeline.

One important suggestion to boost export would be the introduction of "Open Bond Scheme". If this scheme is implemented with all sincerity and earnestness I am confident our exports will increase manifold to celebrate under this scheme if somebody imports fabrics not manufactured in Pakistan like remmie cotton, poly fleece and acrylic etc. at $ 100.00 and re-exports after value addition for $ 110.00 we will in any case be retaining $ 10.00. My personal feeling is that free import of such fabrics will greatly boost our exports.

Exhibition fairs play a most vital role in promoting the trade in those countries hitherto unfamiliar with our products. We have been constantly pleading for increasing the frequencies for such fairs/exhibitions around the world. I would like to suggest that a timetable be chalked out after determining the countries and areas of products. The commercial offices of Pakistan Embassies abroad be alerted for making such exhibition a regular feature of their official activities. As for the advertisements. I would like to give you an example. My Association is a regular contributor to several foreign publications on textiles. India's Apparel Export Promotion Council is very active in this field in the sense that it regularly contributes full page advertisements introducing their madeups. We made a plea to our Export Promotion Bureau in this respect and invited their attention in writing to such advertisements. We also said that the funds of EMDF may be used in this respect. It is regretful to state that our letter was not even acknowledged to say the least. We on our own cannot embark upon such advertising campaigns, may be large exporters could do so.
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Title Annotation:Pakistan's knitwear industry
Author:Hussain, Nisar
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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