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KARACHI – Pakistan’s burgeoning textile industry will be showcased at an Expo in August. More than 100 exhibitors will gather at the 4th International Textile Exhibition from 18-20 August as domestic textile exporters seek to capitalise on a period of significant growth. 

Most recent figures show that the value of textile and garment exports from Pakistan increased by 25.5 per cent during fiscal 2021-22 (July-June) over corresponding fiscal 2020-21. During the period, Pakistan earned US$19.3bn from textile and apparel exports, compared to exports of US$15.4bn in 2020-21.

Textile and apparel production is of major strategic importance to Pakistan’s economy. These industries contribute more than 60 per cent of export revenues and provide work for millions of people.

Apparel Insider recently spoke to Shafiq Shahzad (pictured), Trade and Investment Minister, Pakistan High Commission, London. We wanted to find out more about this event and why Pakistan is increasingly viewed as a sourcing option of significant potential for the world’s leading fashion brands.

Much of this potential is down to Pakistan’s ability to offer one-stop-shop solutions. The country is the eighth largest cotton producer globally and a major producer of organic cotton, enabling vertical integration (some factories are even now farming their own cotton).

“At this year’s Expo, more than 100 leading Pakistani textile companies will be displaying their products,” he told us. “The show is set across six halls, with display areas for fashion, yarns, ready-made garments, leather and home textiles. There will also be a fashion show on the last day of the event.

“All of Pakistan’s leading producers will be present and we are inviting visitors and buying teams from all over the world, including major buying houses.”

Major producers present include US Apparel, Interloop, Sadaqat Textiles, Artistic Denim, Masood Textiles, Gohar Textiles, Sapphire Textiles, Al Karam etc. 

There was a period a few years ago when Pakistan was deemed unsafe for Western travellers. This made it difficult for buying teams to visit the country in person and hampered business development opportunities.

This picture has changed in recent years. All the major fashion brands, including Inditex (owner of Zara), Primark, Next, H&M, Walmart and numerous others from across the US, UK and Europe are now sourcing from Pakistan.

Like Bangladesh, the country is looking to be a potential beneficiary as fashion brands slowly divest their interests in China due to a range of geo-political, due diligence and strategic reasons.

Mr Shahzad tells us that Pakistan’s textile exports continued to perform well even through the pandemic when restrictions were in place. Exports to the US, UK and European Union have broken all records in the past 18-months 

“These exports include everything in fashion, from basic products to high end fashion to technical textiles,” Mr Shahzad tells Apparel Insider. “Pakistan is blessed with a vertically and horizontally integrated textile industry, with home-grown cotton going directly into fashion garments for exports.”

Pakistan has also had a major inward investment drive in recent years, with the establishment of a number of key special economic zones, although success here has been hit and miss. Some have expressed concerns that there is an over-dependence on China, although the China-Pakistan economic corridor is viewed as a vital strategic plank for Pakistan going forwards.

Continued outside investment in infrastructure, energy and economic zones will be crucial to Pakistan’s success moving forwards.

Political stability will also be necessary for domestic and foreign investment, as industry stakeholders focus on key strategic issues such as green energy, technology transfer, the availability of raw materials and effective measures to improve the ease of doing business. 

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