Textile exporters are highly perturbed about the adverse impact of COVID-19 outbreak as foreign buyers have started cancelling and putting off export orders. They say the situation is leading towards massive de-industrialisation, a significant fall in exports and unmanageable unemployment. They ask the government to take supportive measures on a war footing to keep the wheel of industry moving and protect jobs of millions of people.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman Sohail Pasha, in a statement, expressed concern over the adverse impact of coronavirus pandemic on the national economy and industrial sector. “The virus has taken its toll on global markets and it has also left a serious impact on the scale of demand for Pakistan’s export goods,” he said. The most-affected value chain in Pakistan is textile and apparel, which has started facing large-scale cancellation or postponement of export orders. Resultantly, he said, industrial production had slowed down.

To save the economy from the impact of slowdown in the world economy due to COVID-19 and other global economic challenges, he asked the government to take economic measures to protect the trade and industry in the country. He called for disbursement of all outstanding tax refunds of textile exporters along with policy incentives including the Duty Drawback of Taxes, Technology Up-gradation Fund and mark-up support subsidy.

PTEA Patron-in-Chief Khurram Mukhtar pointed out that an extreme cash flow crunch had already squeezed the financial stream and the negative impact of COVID-19 would further hit the export industry.

“Disruptions to export shipments will likely continue for some time and the government should come up with supportive measures to help cope with this abnormal situation,” he said. He called for restoring the zero-rating tax facility for the five major export sectors till June 30, 2020 and waiving interest payments and installments of long-term loans for three months.

Mukhtar pointed out that several central banks around the world had slashed interest rates to support their economies amid the coronavirus outbreak. “Lower interest rates make borrowing cheaper and encourage businesses to take loans, which will stimulate the economy.”

He called for a 500-basis-point cut in the interest rate and increase in State Bank’s Export Finance Scheme (EFS) limit by 30 percent for all exporters for a period of 180 days.