KARACHI: A meeting was recently held between Manel De Silva, Consul General of Sri Lanka and the All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association members (APTPMA), led by chairman M Arif Lakhani.
At the meeting Sri lankan's intiative for a Super Regional Cumulation linking SAARC and ASEAN countries as one entity for the purpose of GSP facility of the European Union (EU) was supported by the Pakistani members.
The meeting intensely discussed the ramifications of this initiative, which would be an agenda item in the SAARC commerce secretaries meeting in Islamabad after Eid, a release said.
De Silva explained in detail the various issues related to this linkage and asserted that the value-added manufacturers would have a wide choice to source their fabrics.
Moreover, EU would accept the utilisation of fabrics from ASEAN countries for GSP benefits and this would make the products of SAARC countries competitive and affordable.
It would also enable EU buyers to procure more value-added products from SAARC.
The Super Regional Cumulation (SRC) would also institute the concept of improvement in quality of fabrics and encourage joint ventures, technical collaboration and common market strategies among SAARC countries.
Arif Lakhani was assisted by Vice Chairman, Anis Motiwala and senior textile processors, Abdullah Rafi, Majyd Aziz, Iqbal Arbi, Tariq Rafi and others.
They were especially concerned about a possible scenario in which some of the fabric producers in Indonesia and Thailand could undersell their products and affect the SAARC fabric producers.
In that case, they mentioned, Pakistan's fabric manufacturers could lose their market share in the SAARC countries. At the same time, Pakistani garment and hosiery manufacturers may also be subject to fierce competition from ASEAN manufacturers in the volatile EU market.
The Consul General added that this perception must change because the market share of Pakistani fabrics in Sri Lanka and other SAARC countries is not significant and that this initiative would, in fact, boost the sales of Pakistani fabrics not only in SAARC but also in ASEAN countries.
Aggressive marketing is required and it is high time Pakistani manufacturers map out a long-term strategy to market their fabrics in countries where the exposure is still lacking intensity.
The consensus developed after the meeting was that the Super Regional Cumulation was a challenge and an opportunity and that in the long run it would prove beneficial to all SAARC countries.