Textile exporters have threatened that they will stage a nationwide protest if the government failed to arrange cotton yarn, which is direly needed to meet pending export orders.

They voiced fear that the shortage of raw material would prompt overseas buyers to cancel the export orders given to Pakistani enterprises and approach their regional counterparts.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Council of Textile Associations Chairman Zubair Motiwala said that the value-added textile sector had been calling on the government for the past five months to deal with the shortage of cotton yarn, but no action was taken.

“The inconsiderate response is tantamount to lack of priority and non-seriousness towards value-added textile exports,” he said.

“This segment contributes around 62% to total exports, provides 42% of urban employment, particularly to the female workforce, earns the highest foreign exchange and supports approximately 40 allied industries.”

He warned the government of dire consequences if the raw material deficit persisted and appealed to the authorities to permit duty-free import of cotton yarn besides imposing a ban on its export to save the export-oriented industries and employment.

“It is government’s responsibility to decide whether it wants to enhance exports or trigger large-scale shutdown of export industries,” remarked Motiwala.

“A few months ago, the government approved dutyfree import of wheat and sugar in view of the shortage of the two commodities but it is ignoring the looming cotton yarn crisis, which is deplorable,” he said.

Motiwala pointed out that the scarcity of cotton yarn would translate into a decline in value-added textile exports. Highlighting that the drop in cotton crop yield was a major factor behind the yarn shortage, he said that the demand for cotton yarn had risen because the exporters had worked hard to win a large number of export orders.

He said Pakistan was able to achieve a significant jump in textile exports over the past six months because the businessmen had got a large number of orders from different countries.

“Whenever the value-added textile sector realises its full potential, an anti-export move emerges and all efforts of the businessmen go in vain,” he remarked.

Previously, the disconnection of gas supply to the captive power plants of export-oriented industries damaged the image of Pakistan’s exporters in the eyes of foreign buyers, he pointed out. “Now, the delay in approving duty-free import of cotton yarn will push export industries to the brink of disaster.”