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Navigating Challenges: Pakistan's Textile Exports Experience a Significant Drop

Syeda Rida Shammas

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In the fiscal year 2022-23, Pakistan's textile industry faced a considerable setback, with a 15% decline in textile exports, as reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The drop in exports amounted to $16.5 billion, compared to the previous year's $19.33 billion. This unexpected decline can be attributed to various domestic and global challenges that have impacted the country's textile sector. In this blog, we will delve into the reasons behind this decline and explore how other countries' businesses have responded to similar challenges.

Recessionary Fears and Suppressed Demand

One of the primary reasons for the decline in Pakistan's textile exports is the suppressed demand caused by recessionary fears in Western regions, particularly the United States and Europe. The economic uncertainty resulting from the global pandemic has led to reduced consumer spending and a decrease in demand for textile products. Diversifying export destinations can reduce reliance on specific markets and buffer against demand fluctuations.

Domestic Challenges

Apart from global factors, domestic challenges have also played a significant role in the decline of textile exports. Gas shortages, rising working capital costs, lower cotton arrivals, and uncertainty in foreign exchange rates have further compounded the difficulties faced by the industry. Addressing working capital challenges might involve improving access to affordable financing or exploring trade credit options. Moreover, the government can take measures to stabilize the exchange rates to reduce uncertainty for exporters.

Segment-Wise Analysis

  • A closer look at the segment-wise performance reveals that value-added products, such as knitwear, bedwear, towels, and ready-made garments, witnessed a drop of approximately 13% year-on-year (YoY). 
  • Similarly, basic textiles, including raw cotton, investing cotton, cotton yarn, and cotton cloth, experienced a slump of around 21% YoY
  • Other textile exports also plunged by approximately 10% YoY. 

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June 2023 Overview of Industry

In June 2023, value-added exports showed a slight recovery with a volumetric increase of 16% and a marginal price increase of around 1%. This resulted in a notable 17% month-on-month (MoM) increase, reaching $1.03 billion

Among the value-added exports, knitwear emerged as a major contributor, experiencing an 18% MoM increase, followed by ready-made garments and bedwear with a 19% MoM increase each. To sustain this momentum, textile businesses should focus on meeting market demands promptly, improving supply chain efficiency, and optimizing production processes to minimize costs.

Outlook and Potential Solutions

While a resurgence of demand in export regions may lead to an increase in volume, the decline in product prices is expected to offset the impact. Moreover, challenges in the domestic economy, such as elevated gas and electricity tariffs, clearance delays for investing cotton and essential inputs, and increased finance rates, continue to hinder Pakistan's textile industry players. However, the promising outlook for investing in cotton production in the upcoming year may provide some relief to local textile manufacturers. 

To alleviate the impact of domestic challenges, the government can consider offering financial incentives, streamlined customs procedures, and long-term policy support to the textile industry. Let's discuss the solutions adopted by various countries' textile industries to cope with challenges and maintain export competitiveness.

Bangladesh's Textile Industry Coping with Reduced Demand During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, the textile industry in Bangladesh faced reduced demand due to global economic uncertainties and disruptions in supply chains. To navigate this challenge, Bangladesh's textile businesses implemented several strategies:

Diversification of Product Range: Manufacturers diversified their product offerings to cater to new market demands. This involved producing not only traditional textiles but also manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and medical gowns. 

Exploring New Markets: Bangladesh's textile exporters explored alternative markets beyond their traditional customer base. By identifying regions with higher demand for textile products during the pandemic, they were able to reduce their reliance on specific markets and expand their global presence.

Improved E-commerce Presence: Embracing digital platforms and e-commerce channels became crucial for Bangladesh's textile industry. By enhancing their online presence, businesses reached a broader audience and facilitated contactless transactions, which was particularly important during the pandemic.

Turkey's Textile Sector Diversifying Product Range to Mitigate Declining Exports

Turkey's textile sector faced challenges with declining textile exports. To counter this trend, Turkish textile businesses undertook the following measures:

Product Diversification: Turkish textile manufacturers expanded their product range to include higher-value items and innovative designs. By focusing on producing specialized and unique textiles, they were able to differentiate themselves in the global market and appeal to niche customer segments.

Market Diversification: Similar to Bangladesh, Turkey explored new markets and regions for exporting its textiles. By diversifying their export destinations, Turkish businesses reduced their reliance on specific markets and became less vulnerable to fluctuations in demand from any single country.

Investing in Technology: Embracing advanced technology and automation helped Turkish textile companies optimize their production processes and enhance efficiency. Improved productivity allowed them to compete more effectively in the global market.

Vietnam's Textile Industry Rebounding with Value-Added Exports and Market Diversification

Vietnam's textile industry faced challenges during the pandemic but rebounded by focusing on value-added exports and market diversification:

Value-Added Exports: Vietnam shifted its focus towards producing higher-value textiles and garments, such as designer clothing and high-quality fabrics. This strategic move enabled them to command premium prices and establish themselves as a source of premium textile products.

Diversification of Market Presence: Vietnamese textile exporters explored new markets beyond their traditional ones, capitalizing on regional and international trade agreements. By strategically expanding their market presence, they achieved a more balanced and sustainable export portfolio.

Strategies Implemented by China's Textile Industry to Navigate Challenges in the Domestic Market and Maintain Export Competitiveness

As the world's leading textile exporter, China faced domestic and global challenges. To maintain export competitiveness, the Chinese textile industry employed the following strategies:

Investment in Research and Development: Chinese textile businesses invested significantly in research and development to stay at the forefront of innovation. This allowed them to develop advanced textiles and manufacturing processes, positioning China as a leader in the global textile market.

Streamlining Supply Chains: China focused on optimizing its supply chain to reduce costs and improve efficiency. By shortening production lead times and enhancing logistics, Chinese exporters were able to respond more swiftly to international market demands.

Government Support: The Chinese government provided substantial support to the textile industry, offering financial incentives, tax breaks, and export promotion programs. This support bolstered the industry's competitiveness and facilitated its growth in the global market.

Pakistan's textile industry has faced significant challenges resulting in a substantial drop in textile exports. A combination of domestic and global factors has contributed to this decline. By analyzing the responses of other countries' textile businesses to similar challenges, Pakistan's industry can gain valuable insights and consider implementing relevant strategies to combat the obstacles and enhance its competitiveness in the global market.

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