The Express Tribune
Published Date: Dec 21, 2016
To boost apparel exports, Pakistan needs to find its ‘pockets of excellence’ and identify segments that have the best potential to perform, says an economist of the World Bank Institute, a capacity development branch of the bank.
“Building relations and winning the trust of buyers is equally important. To achieve this, buyers must be assured that the country has strong mechanisms in place to address issues that may hamper sustained supply of items that are being imported,” Ravindra A Yatawara, Senior Economist in the Growth and Competitiveness Programme of the World Bank Institute, said.
He was speaking at a seminar titled “Policies to boost competitiveness: The case of apparel sector” at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Tuesday.
Yatawara, during his lead presentation, cited case studies of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Turkey and illustrated the usefulness of investments for firms and nations trying to create jobs and capture higher margins along the rapidly evolving global apparel value chain.
Earlier, SDPI Deputy Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed pointed out that competitiveness of the apparel sector had been hurt by the high cost of doing business including high import tariffs, energy and security costs.
“Pakistan’s limited participation in global value chains could be attributed to weak trade facilitation and lack of coordination among the Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue and provincial revenue authorities,” he said.
Ahmed noted that small and medium-sized exporters in the apparel sector had not been able to access credit facilities on time and the current exchange rate regime also strengthened the anti-export bias, already seen in the tariff structure and de facto industrial policies.
He called for conducting an independent evaluation to see why Pakistan’s utilisation of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus and other trade agreements had not been optimal.
Ministry of Finance Industrial Policy Adviser Umer Khalid defended the government, saying it was offering facilitation and support to the textile industry including the apparel sector.