Pakistan’s textile sector has benefitted immensely from the Covid-19 lockdowns around the world. The shutdown of major global textile centers in the region has allowed Pakistani textile manufacturers and exporters to secure a lot of orders. Pre-pandemic the textile sector was mostly doing ordinary business and many of those associated with this trade had invested their money in other businesses — like in the construction industry and energy sector — instead of bringing the required upgradation in their own sector.
Now the industry is also faced with the lack of cotton production in the country, and the business community is asking the government to help improve the situation. I think since those associated with the textile sector are affluent, they should lead the needed improvement in their industry, just as the manufacturer of surgical and sports goods of Sialkot did for their respective sectors.
In order to enhance the production of cotton, the textile sector should say yes to a high base price for cotton on their own. They should import quality seeds and distribute them among farmers. One way they can double the cotton output is by announcing a base price for Afghanistan besides supplying quality seeds to Afghan farmers on loan. This is how they can easily create additional supply of cotton for Pakistan’s textile industry while also helping to improve the relations between the two countries.
The textile sector of Pakistan should not lose this new opportunity created by the Covid-19 crisis and make whatever upgradation is required to give it a boost, on self-help basis.
Shahryar Khan Baseer
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2021.