The Textile industry in Pakistan is the largest manufacturing industry in Pakistan . Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile commodities in Asia. Textile sector contributes 8.5% to the GDP of Pakistan . In addition, the sector employs about 45% of the total labor force in the country (and 38% of the manufacturing workers). Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of cotton with the third largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India and contributes 5% to the global spinning capacity. At present, there are 1,221 ginning units, 442 spinning units, 124 large spinning units and 425 small units which produce textile.
The origin of the Indian textiles is thought to be the Indus Valley civilization, situated in modern Pakistan, where people used homespun cotton to weave garments. Historically, the Indus valley region engaged in significant trade with the rest of the world. The silk from the region, for example, is known to have been popular in Rome, Egypt, Britain, and Indonesia.
In the 1950s, textile manufacturing emerged as a central part of Pakistan's industrialization, shortly following independence from the British rule in the South Asia. In 1974, the Pakistan government established the Cotton Export Corporation of Pakistan (CEC). The CEC served as a barrier to private manufacturers from participating in international trade. However, in the late 1980s, the role of the CEC diminished and by 1988-89, private manufacturers were able to buy cotton from ginners and sell in both domestic and foreign markets. Between 1947 and 2000, the number of textile mills in Pakistan increased from 3 to 600. In the same time period, spindles increased from 177,000 to 805 million.
There are six primary sectors of the textile production in Pakistan:
Cotton is the largest segment of textile production. Other fibers produced include synthetic fiber, filament yarn, art silk, wool, and jute.
Textiles comprise 57% of Pakistan's export revenues. However, in recent years, textile exports have declined significantly. Textile exports were recorded at $11.625 billion dollars in 2014-2015. In 2015-2016, this number had dropped 7.7% to $10.395 billion.
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association recently requested the government to take significant measures to ensure the growth of textile exports and sustain the employment provided by the sector. Specifically, the PTEA has requested:
Furthermore, the Pakistan Textile Mills Association has demanded that the removal of duty on cotton imports and a rebate of five percent on textile exports. This plea has come at a time with about 110 mills have been shut down due to various barriers to growth including the energy crisis.
In recent years, Pakistan has faced competition from regional players including Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. In the past decade, Pakistan's share in global textile market decreased to 1.7 percent from 2.2 percent, Bangladesh saw an increase from 1.9 to 3.3 percent and India from 3.4 to 4.7 percent. Barriers to growth include:
The textile industry is the second largest employment sector in Pakistan. Labor costs are estimated to be about five to eight percent of total cost while import income of the sector is estimated to be about $12.5 billion in 2010-11. Textile mill owners have often complained that labor costs are "too high" while workers continue to be underpaid and over utilized. Factories often do not issue letters of employments to workers and therefore can easily fire them without legal consequences. Furthermore, safety and security remains a significant issue at textile, where there are limited checks on exhaust systems, light systems, and waste water disposal. This dire state of affairs of labor rights comes in sharp contrast to the growing Pakistan fashion industry, which primary serves the country's elites.