PAKISTAN: Knitwear exporters facing shortage of workforce

LAHORE: The knitwear industry is flooded with export orders which are mainly coming from India. The knitwear sector which was struggling for survival in the last two years has suddenly found itself in the limelight again. It is now regretting its decision of cutting jobs earlier.

Now after the orders have come in they are facing the dearth of expert hands to meet the target. Many leading exporters said earlier they continued to execute export orders even for products on which they suffered a little loss or those which were exported at break-even prices.

Exporters hoped that this phase would be temporary and prices would bounce back. However, when this did not happen most of the exporters decided six months ago to fulfill only those export orders on which they could make fair profit.
Subsequently, production was slashed and the companies started making profits. But workers were also proportionately reduced.

In 2006-07, knitwear exports totaled $1.945 billion, which was the highest figure among different textile sectors that contributed $10.638 billion to Pakistan’s total exports in that year.

The knitwear exports started edging down in the first quarter of the current fiscal year after which the exporters only accepted those orders which earned them profits.

The Indian currency has appreciated 13 per cent year-on-year against the US dollar while Pak rupee lost only 1.5 per cent. This huge difference between the two currencies has started marginalizing Indian knitwear exports and provided advantage to Pakistani knitwear industry as global buyers are diverting their orders to countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia or Bangladesh.

However, the knitwear exporters are in a quandary as a large numbers of orders are being placed at reasonable prices. They have the production capacity to meet those orders, but do not have the manpower which they reduced a few months ago due to scarcity of importers.

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Added: October 28, 2007 Source: Agencies
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