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April 21, 2015

‘China’s friendly visa policy can boost textile exports’

Business

April 21, 2015

KARACHI: China remains a friend of Pakistan but its conservative visa policies remain unfriendly towards Pakistani businessmen, said one industrialist.
Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Chairman Ijaz Khokhar speaking to The News said the hurdles in getting a visa for China also create barriers in trade between the two countries. As both countries sign several long term projects, they should also resolve visa grant issues, so traders could achieve short term goals. He said Pakistan was issuing liberal visas to Chinese for one year, with multiple entries on simple documentation, while China issues only three month-single entry visa to Pakistanis. “Visa should be issued for five years with multiple entries, as US and Europe issued such type of visas to Pakistanis,” he suggested.
Khokar’s suggestions have been made in the backdrop of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, with deals of $45 billion on the table, of which, $28 billion would be spent on development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). PRGMEA chairman said that visa drop out facility should be allowed at chambers.
There is no market of Pakistani garments in China, but PRGMEA wants to purchase raw material and machinery from China to face the global competition with Bangladesh and other countries. Bangladesh was purchasing its raw material from China as well. “Pakistan’s garments manufacturing is stagnant because of lack of some latest raw material,” Khokar said. With easy access to Chinese market Pakistan would purchase the required raw material and increase exports to Europe. “Higher garment exports will help earn more forex and federal taxes, and generate employment too. All subject to availability of latest material,” he said.
Currently, out of around $5 billion trade with China, its share is around 75 percent in exports while Pakistan’s share is nearly $1.25 billion. “Importing raw

material from China will be most beneficial as we will later gain in the shape of increased exports to Europe,” Khokhar said.
The textile sector is facing many other hardships at the hands of Pakistani authorities, including the Rs110 billion sales tax refunds stuck with the Federal Board of Revenue. “If these dues are released in time along with an aggressive market plan it can benefit the sector,” he added.
Textile exports reported a dismal trend in February 2015 where the country’s exports declined by three percent year on year, and clocked at $1.09 billion as against $1.12 billion. On cumulative basis, the country’s textile exports for the first eight months of the current fiscal remained flattish at $9.2 billion as against $9.1 billion in the same period last fiscal, thereby posting a nominal increase of 0.5 percent year on year.
Value added textile categories such as knitwear, bed-wear, garments and home textiles posted decent growths during the first eight months of financial year 2015, increasing by 5.0 percent to 14 percent, while non-value added items raw cotton, yarn and cotton cloth posted double digit declines over the same period, keeping the overall exports in check.