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Non-Textile exports: Pakistani industry coming back to life?

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News Analysis |

Exports of non-textile products have surprisingly picked up and posted a growth of 13.6 percent during the first four months (July-October) of the current fiscal year, after several months of a worrisome decline.

The export proceeds from these products shot to $2.66 billion between July-October, from $2.34 billion over the corresponding duration of the last fiscal year, suggested data compiled by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, a department that had recently come under severe criticism vis-à-vis the 2017 census.

The data exhibits an increase of 80.4 percent year-on-year in exports of petroleum products. Petroleum products, petroleum crude, and naphtha were the factors that led to the surge in the petroleum sector’s exports.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had ensured the business manufacturers and exporters that the exports facilitation package initially announced by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be implemented.

In the exports of carpets and rugs, the trend was not in the industry’s favor. They witnessed a negative growth of 10 percent during July-October period of the current fiscal year in comparison with the last fiscal year. Sports goods exports made a very slight dent, dipping merely by 0.14 percent in comparison with the year 2016-2017 during the months under review. Foreign sales of footballs shot up by 7.68 percent, sustaining their annual growth rate of 0.8 percent. Tanned leather exports witnessed a negative growth of 4.27 percent in July-October from a year ago. Original leather products exports, however, dove deeper and declined by 9.5 percent during the period under review, as per the Bureau of Statistics.

Read more: Pakistan’s economy at a tipping point

On the upside in the gloomy leather business, all value-added leather products exhibited a growth of 2.48 percent in export proceeds in July-October. This growth was mainly led by sales of leather gloves, which are being traded off to mostly European countries.

Footwear exports also fell by 3.82 percent during the July-October scrutiny. Footwear exports are considered the only faction with the highest growth potential; this dip was contributed to the booming Chinese infiltration in textiles and non-textile manufacturing and also, the gradual European footwear market that is exploring metropolitans in Pakistan.

They witnessed a negative growth of 10 percent during July-October period of the current fiscal year in comparison with the last fiscal year.

Exports of surgical goods and medical instruments went up by 12.8 percent and engineering goods surged by 18.47 percent during the period under review over last year. Year-on-year exports comparison of Gur (jaggery) showed growth by 48 percent, and molasses went up by 9.11 percent during the period under review.

However, the exports of cement fell by 48.57 percent, handicrafts went down by a shocking 100 percent, furniture went down 6 percent and jewelry 57 percent during the first four months of the current fiscal year from a year ago.

Read more: “Anti-industry” policies of the government: Textile Association to protest

In the agricultural bucket, exports of rice hit a steep decline of 9.85 percent in the first four months of the current fiscal year from the last fiscal year. Pakistan rice exports stood at $ 1.607 billion in July-June of FY17 compared to $ 1.86 billion in the same period of FY16, depicting a decline of $ 253 million.

A few years back, rice was the 2nd largest foreign exchange earning commodity with $2 billion exports, however, it now ranks fifth as the rice trade is facing severe crisis and exports continue to decline.

Footwear exports are considered the only faction with the highest growth potential; this dip was contributed to the booming Chinese infiltration in textiles and non-textile manufacturing and also, the gradual European footwear market that is exploring metropolitans in Pakistan.

The increase was witnessed in exports of both basmati and non-basmati rice, both of which collectively went up by 16.87 percent. Exports of sugar and wheat are the other two major exports commodities, which recorded a growth during the period under review.

Other products which also posted growth during the period under review are oil, fish, seeds, pulses, and tobacco.

Read more: Ittefaq Textile Mills to be auctioned over default loan

This data compilation comes as a surprise as the proceeds from non-textile exports were consistently falling since December 2016. Data published by the (PBS) in March 2017 had revealed that exports of non-textile products registered a decline of 39.7 percent during the first eight months of 2016-17 by a year-on-year basis; export proceeds of non-textile products had dropped to $5.1 billion in July-Feb from $5.5 billion in 2015-16.

Observers had said that this dip might have been due to the fact that owing to low supply of electricity and gas to non-textile sectors, the cost of doing business, especially for these manufacturing businesses, had gone up.

The exports of carpets and rugs registered negative growth of 17.86 percent in July-Feb. Exports of sports goods fell 5.49 percent year-on-year during the months under review. Foreign sales of footballs had also dipped by 9.96 percent.

Tanned leather exports had fallen by 6.26 percent in July-Feb from a year ago while those of leather products had registered a decline of 6.61 percent.

Exports of footwear had gone down 10.14 percent mainly due to the 5.5 percent negative growth in the exports of leather footwear. Exports of surgical goods and medical instruments had also dipped 5.33 percent and those of engineering goods had dipped 7.66 percent during the period under review.

Pakistan rice exports stood at $ 1.607 billion in July-June of FY17 compared to $ 1.86 billion in the same period of FY16, depicting a decline of $ 253 million.

Experts believe that the gradual but distinct rebound in export proceeds may be due to the support package that the government has extended to the non-textile manufacturing sector under the Prime Minister Exports Enhancement package which was announced earlier this year.

The delay in the implementation of this package and its amenities had rendered various business associations to protest against the regime. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had ensured the business manufacturers and exporters that the exports facilitation package initially announced by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be implemented.

In the export package, the commerce ministry had separately announced additional incentives for non-textile products. The support was announced for leather manufacturers, footwear, sports goods, surgical, engineering goods, furniture, meat and meat products, fish products and cutlery.


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