Capitalise on China’s footwear market: PFMA

Says footwear exports are stuck at $156 million

Shahram Haq January 10, 2023


Speaking to The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview, the Pakistan Footwear Manufacturer Association (PFMA) Chairman, Mansoor Ehsan, expressed fear over losing the Chinese footwear export market to the ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan.

“As a footwear industry, we depend a lot on China in terms of raw material and expertise. The ongoing economic crisis, however, is forcing them to look to other economies to relocate its exports industry of over $50 billion,” said Ehsan.

The PFMA chairman said that they are relocating to countries like Cambodia and Laos and that, “it is be our bad luck if we fail to get some share from this relocation”.

“Our footwear exports are stuck at $156 million, if we want to take this figure to at least $1 billion we need joint ventures either in raw material or exports with our Chinese counterparts. Currently, however, they are reluctant to come to Pakistan,” he said.

“Our aim is to get the required human resource skills to boost the industry and exports so the country can make some dollars, and right now, China is our best bet. But the government doesn’t seem interested in capitalising on the opportunity,” lamented Ehsan.

“We are not demanding any monetary benefits. All we need is the government’s moral support and the provision of some basic incentives for the export-oriented industries, so that foreign investors consider their investments to be ‘safe and healthy’ in Pakistan,” Ehsaan added.

In the past few years, Pakistan’s footwear industry has matured significantly and has even managed to secure exports to some European and Middle Eastern countries. The country produces around 500 million pairs of shoes annually and is looking to increase its local market share, which according to them currently stands at a 60:40 ratio (local production/ imports).

Apart from increasing its local market share, the association is also looking to increase its capacity to cater to a share of the EU’s $55 billion footwear import market and North America’s $57 billion import market.

“To take full advantage of the scope of footwear exports for Pakistan we need to upgrade our technology and train our human resource,” suggested the PFMA chairman, adding that, “For this, we have to collaborate with our foreign counterparts, mainly China.”

“Bangladesh is a great example – just two years ago their exports were only $50 million. Today, their exports are touching the $2 billion mark,” he said.

“This is a pivotal time for this industry and we cannot make progress without government’s support both in local and export markets. As a nation, we should try and take advantage of the Chinese footwear sector’s relocation or we will miss a big opportunity, and of course billions of dollars in export revenue,” added the chairman.


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