Lahore: The carpet exports have registered another decline of more than 10% during first half of the current fiscal year of 2014-15 despite free market access to the EU countries under GSP Plus status with the country already suffering a huge decline of over 50% during the last seven years, as hand-made carpets export had fallen to $120 million from $300 million, depriving almost 0.5 million people of their direct employment.
This was stated by the Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA) Chairman Usman Ghani and senior vice chairman Qamar Zia in a joint statement.
The government needs to incorporate hand knotted carpets in FTAs with China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil etc as the handmade carpets have not been included in any Pakistan’s Free Trade Agreement with other countries. The acute shortage of electricity, bad law and order, ever-soaring inflation, shortage of skilled labour force and high mark-up rate are the reasons of sharp decline in carpet exports, Usman Ghani said.
The GSP Plus facility has restricted some drop in carpets export, otherwise this decline might have been more than 20% with this free trade access facility, he added. Pakistan has to make an extra effort in promoting exports by arranging trade fairs and exhibitions, he emphasized. He said the stability of our economy will help us overcome many challenges facing our country particularly war against terrorism.
He said that carpet industry has to take full advantage of the entry got in Chinese handmade carpet sector. “Instead of looking towards United States and European Union the Pakistani exporters should now focus on China to take trade relations to a new height by aggressively exploring opportunities for joint ventures in various sectors including hand-knotted carpets.”
PCMEA SVC Qamar Zia observed that that Pakistan’s carpet export to Europe and China was declined by over 55 per cent which can be compensated by export to China and Turkey, where this handmade product is in great demand. Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir and TDAP Chief Executive SM Muneer have realized the importance of this point. He asked the government for remaining all along with the carpet industry and pursuing the Chinese authorities to exempt the Pakistani handmade carpets from import duty, bringing it under zero-rated in China.
Demanding special initiatives, Usman Ghani asked the government to finance the carpet industry to open warehouses and retail outlets abroad including China. PCMEA leaders said, presently, China is the largest carpet buyer of Pakistan. We are struggling for the enhancement of Pakistani carpet export to China, he maintained.
Qamar Zia stated that China, Dubai and Germany are the classic examples of well organized international trade fairs/centers, where businessmen from all over the world used to attend. In order to strengthen the efforts to promote Pakistan’s cultural heritage, the Government must allocate substantial amount from its annual development budget (PSDP) for promotion of carpet industry, he opined.