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New Training Push to Strengthen Pakistan’s Struggling Textile Sector

About 120,000 people are set to profit from a skill development program designed to boost jobs in Pakistan’s ailing textile industry.

Official sources on Friday told the Associated Press of Pakistan that the training push is a part of the country’s national textile policy, announced in February, which aims to boost exports to $26 billion by 2019.

Furthermore, 150 small firms from the sector will be selected to receive government support over the next three years. Sources said the proposed measures are designed to generate jobs for more than five million people.

Despite increasing textile and clothing exports by 45 percent over the past five years to $13.7 billion—triggered in part by the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus duty-free trade scheme offered by the European Union and implemented in January 2014—Pakistan’s textile industry has struggled in recent years due to energy and raw material shortages, rising costs and substandard labor and environmental conditions.

Circumstances have become so bad that just last week the country’s All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) announced it was voluntarily shutting down mills as the cost of doing business was unviable.

The government now plans to provide 40.6 billion rupees (or $640.8 million) over five years for duty drawback, brand development and upgrading technology, while a further 23.5 billion rupees (about $371 million) will be offered for skill development and start-up incubator programs, among others.

Earlier this month, Japan agreed to support the Pakistani garment sector through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) by introducing international best practices and product diversification to the sector.