KARACHI: Knitwear garments export surged by 36.57 percent during period Jul-Jun FY 2020-21 over Jul-Jun FY 2019-20 and earned highest amount of foreign exchange, exporters said on Tuesday.

"Alhamdulillah, Pakistan's exports have increased from $21.393 billion to $25.304 billion by 18.28 percent during period Jul-Jun FY 2020-21 over same period last year," Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, Chief Coordinator Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association. In which textile group shares the highest by 60.86 percent while knitwear tops with 15.08 percent, he said. Knitwear is maintaining top position in textile group and has 25 percent share in exports of textile group and is the lifeline of Pakistan's exports, he added. "In-Sha-Allah, share of knitwear in total exports will be 20 percent in FY 2021-22. If government gave genuine considerations to the proposals of knitwear sector and addressed all their problems," he said.

With the resolution of hampering issues, he hoped the share of knitwear export could reach 25 percent alone in FY 2020-21. Knitwear export has grown from $2.794 billion to $3.816 billion by 36.57 percent during period Jul-Jun FY 2020-21 comparing to that of exported in the same period last year despite Covid-19 challenges. It, he said, earned the highest amount of foreign exchange of $3.81 billion for the country which is 25.83 percent more than the exports of readymade (woven) garments, 37.68 percent more than the exports of bed wear and 307 percent more than the exports of towel.

After inclusion of export of knitted bed sheet and knitted fabric, the knitwear sector alone fetches $4.532 billion for the country i.e. 29.20 percent of the textile group and 17.91 percent of the national total exports, he said. Exporters of knitwear sector have achieved the milestone from their hard work despite Covid-19 and other challenges, Bilwani lauded. "They are in the top 100 exporters list of Pakistan for FY 2020-21, first and second position also secured by the knitwear exporters and 11 are the knitwear exporters in the top 100 exporters list," Chief Coordinator, PHMA said.

He demanded of the Prime Minister to focus on the knitwear sector, which has a great potential to increase its export manifold. "Bangladesh's major export is also from knitwear sector to the tune of $16.960 billion (43.66 percent of total Bangladesh exports)," he said.

World imports of knitwear garment products annually approximately $208 billion, he said that "the share in total world imports of knitwear products of Pakistan is 1.83 percent while Bangladesh is 8.12 percent".

Increasing the export of knitwear sector is the easiest and Pakistan has the convenience to grow its export from this very sector in short time, he said. "However, it is an irony that the government does not call the association of knitwear (hosiery) sector - Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA) in the high-level meetings and consultative sessions on the subject of exports, he complained.

Even, he said, the government did not allot a representation in the National Export Development Board (NEDB) formed by Prime Minister to provide strategic guidance to increase export competitiveness having representation from the public and private sector.

"In textile and apparel, priority for representation in NEDB is given to business individuals and Chairman / Representative of knitwear sector Association has been ignored which are the real stakeholders having real insight in issues and problems of small, medium and large sized units as Chairman / Representative of Association is involved in day to day affairs," Bilwani said. He asked the government to provide the PHMA with the representation in the NEDB for being the top performing sector.

Approximately, he said, 30 percent small and lower medium units have been closed down in the last two years for imposition of 17 percent sales tax. "Our exports could not flourish unless issues and problems of the small and lower medium units are not addressed," he added. The government, thus, should focus on the small and lower medium sized export units for major uplift in exports and to bring new comers in the business, he said.

"Further, knitwear sector's Association - PHMA also not given representation in Board of Export Development Fund (EDF) presently," he said. He also appealed to the Prime Minister to give directives to the concerned authorities to include the top performing knitwear export sector association - PHMA in the composition of NEDB to ensure their genuine representation and role in the National Export Development Board and in the Board of EDF.

He demanded of the government to restore the zero rating of GST regime. "If not possible to reduce GST rate from 17 percent to 5 percent at least, suspend collection 0.25 percent EDF surcharge on exports value from now on as currently government has approximately Rs58 billion in account of EDF and spends approximately Rs1.5 to 2 billion annually," he pointed out.

He appreciated the government for meeting the PHMA demand to remove discrimination by including SME exporters in the special tax regime and reduce tax rate to 0.25 percent for turnover upto Rs100 million and 0.50 percent for turnover not exceeding Rs250 million.