Half of jute mills in Pakistan remain closed

PJMA secretary says industry relies heavily on imports from Bangladesh

Omar Qureshi July 03, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan Jute Mills Association (PJMA) Secretary Muhammad Younus has lamented the dismal condition of jute mills in Pakistan, which has emerged largely due to the financial crunch currently plaguing many sectors of the economy.

Talking to The Express Tribune, he said out of 10 member mills of PJMA, only four to five were functional, out of which only two were running efficiently. “Bangladesh has also influenced Pakistan’s jute industry by banning the product’s export to Pakistan from time to time,” he revealed. The jute sector of Pakistan relies heavily on imported raw material.

Using jute sacks for food storage

“Although India is the largest producer of jute globally, it doesn’t export it because the entire produce is utilised in meeting the country’s own needs; hence Bangladesh is the largest exporter of jute,” Younus said. “Therefore, Pakistan has to rely on imports from Bangladesh to run the jute industry.”

“Pakistan has ample export and production capacity but its true potential is not being utilised,” he noted, adding that the government and international politics were to be blamed as Bangladesh halted jute exports whenever Pakistan’s relations with India worsened.

Pakistan’s jute exports were quite low and amounted to just a few million dollars, the PJMA secretary disclosed.

According to the PBS, the country imported jute worth $34.5 million in Jul-May FY19, which was 27.5% lower than imports of $47.6 million in the same period of previous fiscal year. He pointed out that farmers had started storing grain in polypropylene bags, which were imported from Thailand, as they were a cheaper alternative to jute bags.

Such a practice was harmful for the environment as well as human health as grain storage in polypropylene bags for a long time would harm the quality, he pointed out.

He urged the government to increase import duty on polypropylene bags in order to discourage unhygienic practices and promote locally made jute bags.

Welcoming the waiving of duty on jute import from Bangladesh, he said it would help the ailing jute units in restarting production and help promote hygienic storage. Last week at an event, Bangladesh High Commissioner Tarik Ahsan urged the government of Pakistan to waive the duty on jute import so that Pakistani public could enjoy jute products at affordable prices.

According to the Pakistan Customs Tariff 2018-19, posted on the FBR website, the country charges 3% customs duty on the import of raw and processed jute. However, an 11% duty is applicable to the import of jute yarn. On woven fabrics of jute and jute bags, customs duty of 20% is charged.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2019.

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