Published Date: May 6, 2016
According to a recent report, women form a large part of the apparel sector’s labour force in South Asia, as the industry pays better than other manufacturing industries. However in Pakistan, women make up just 5pc of the sector’s labour force.
The World Bank report, titled ‘Stitches to Riches: Apparel Employment, Trade, and Economic Development’ was launched by the World Bank and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday.
According to the report, in Sri Lanka 71pc of this sector’s labour force is made up of women. The report said that an increase in output could increase firms’ demand for labour by 0.33 to 0.35pc in Pakistan, which is higher in comparison to other countries in the region.
The report says the bulk of manufacturing facilities are likely to be relocated since China has gone above the desired ceiling, which it is no longer optimal. According to the report, a 1pc increase in Chinese apparel prices could increase the United States’ demand for Pakistani apparel exports by 2.5pc – higher than most countries in the region.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan is emerging from a dark period of extremism and loadshedding, and is heading towards peace, stability and prosperity.
He said people are coming to invest in Pakistan, but more research is needed to devise policies in this regard. “Apparel forms a small part of our textile sector export, i.e. only 19pc,” the minister said. He added that: “We largely export raw and semi-raw material. Exporters are happy to export raw material to China and even to Bangladesh. These countries in turn enhance value addition of these raw products and sell to better markets globally.”
SDPI executive director Dr Abid Suleri said the report’s recommendations should be brought to the knowledge of the parliament, for policy inclusion.
Patchamuthu Ilangovan, the World Bank country director said that over the last couple of years, Pakistan has stabilized its economy, but structural reforms are required to move further. He said the private sector needs to come forward and take entrepreneurial risks.
“Public sector has to bring reforms,” he said, adding that the sector’s access to finance needs to be improved, as it is currently low. He said only 15 to 18pc of families have bank accounts and only 3pc of women have access to finance.
SDPI deputy executive director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said the competitiveness of the apparel sector in Pakistan is affected by many impediments, including regulatory and political constraints, high and complex tariffs structure imports and weak compliance with labour and environmental regulations.