DK Nair, Secretary General Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), said, “Pakistan is the only country in South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) that does not enjoy duty-free access to Indian market for its textile and garments. There is a proposal by the Department of Commerce to provide zero-duty access for all textile products of Pakistan in the Indian market. The proposal is based on geo-political considerations, and not economic factors.”
Elaborating on the present status of textile exports permitted by respective countries, he said, “As of now, Pakistan has a negative list of over 1,200 products which India is not permitted to export to them. This includes 78 textile products. On the other hand, India has a sensitive list of 878 products for import from Pakistan, which includes 288 textile products.”
“But, the fundamental difference between the two lists is that India only avoids tariff concessions for products in sensitive list, whereas Pakistan prohibits imports of products that are in their negative list. Pakistan has stipulated such a negative list only for India and not for any other country,” he said.
Analysing the competitiveness of Pakistani textile items with Indian products, Nair said, “Pakistan is a competitive producer of textiles, perhaps more competitive than India in products like wide width fabrics, pv/pc fabrics, made-ups and garments. Further, since textiles are largest export item of Pakistan, the government gives certain incentives to this sector that enhance its competitiveness.”
“However, there is still scope for improving textiles trade between India and Pakistan. But measures towards this should be mutual and fully reciprocated by Pakistan, so that both the countries can benefit from competitiveness of each other in various segments of textile value chain,” he opines.
“We have made a request to the Indian Government that no unilateral concessions may be extended to Pakistan in textiles trade, as it would have serious negative implications for our industry, especially the decentralised and SME sectors,” he said.