Weaving + Denim

Weaving sector: Pakistan lost clothing export market
by Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education.

The weaving sector is comprised of two types of setups. One is the organized mill sector and the other is the unorganized non-mill sector.  Major known power loom clusters are in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Multan, Karachi, Kasur and Jhang. However, Faisalabad is the biggest cluster in Pakistan.  The organized sector seemingly made a shift towards cotton spinning rather than make efforts to develop and modernize the weaving sector.

The pattern of cloth production is different than spinning sector and there are three different sub-sectors in the weaving industry: Integrated, Independent Weaving Units and Power Loom Units.  The investment in the shuttle-less looms both in integrated and independent weaving sector has increased gradually and this trend is likely to continue.

The cotton weaving industry of Pakistan offers various kinds of fabrics which include the famous greige fabrics. The cotton greige fabric is an important intermediate product that is used to make many different types of textiles. There are more than one thousand ways in which greige cotton can be made, it all relies on the yarn weight, a number of threads used in the weft and wrap, and the interlacing pattern of yarns selected.

Import of machinery

At present Pakistan's textile sector has made considerable advances in production capacity and capability during last few years. A remarkable progress of the power looms sector was seen and setting up of shuttle-less machines in the mill sector has resulted in high growth in fabric production and later on processing. At present, the shuttle-less weaving sector is believed to be the largest consumer of cotton yarn in Pakistan.

Import of textile weaving machines into Pakistan increased from Rs 8.61 billion in 2015-16 to Rs 12.23 billion in 2016-17 thus showing an increase of 42%. The imports of textile weaving machines into Pakistan are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Import of Weaving Machines
                                                                                   Quantity: Numbers
                                                                                   Value: Rs. Million




Quantity  Value Quantity  Value
 Weaving Machines (Shuttleless) 49 12 173 45
 Weaving Machines (WD >30CM) 3,867 7,891 3,451 10,935
 Power Looms Weaving (Esceed 30CM) 39 11 4 3
 Other Weaving Machines (Looms) 535 703 771 1,249
 Total 4,490 8,617 4,399 12,232
 Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

Production of cloth

The total production of cloth (Mill sector) increased from 1,024 million square meters in 2011-12 to only 1,043 million square meters in 2016-17.  However non-mill loom sector accounts more than 90% of the total fabric production. As a result, the non-mill sector weaving capacity continues to occupy the predominant position. The growth of shuttleless weaving machines capacity in this sector has resulted in high growth in fabric production. The shuttle less weaving is believed to be the largest consumer of cotton yarn in Pakistan.  The non-mill weaving sector, although quite large, contributes to the exports by way of the production of low-quality sheeting fabrics.  The production of cotton fabrics by mill sector are given in Table 2.

Table 2: Production of Cotton Fabrics


(Million Sq. meters)









2014-15 1,037





  Source: State Bank of Pakistan

Export of cotton fabrics

The global textiles and clothing trade has increased substantially since the post quota regime. However, Pakistan’s share in the global textiles and clothing trade has remained stagnant due to changes in the distribution chain and also uneven playing field by the importing countries, through preferential trade agreements and special access provided to different competitor countries.

Pakistan has lost some of its competitive edge in international textile and clothing export market on account of high business costs and lower labour productivity. The demand for textiles and clothing in the world is around US$18 trillion, which is likely to be increased by 6.5% per annum. Pakistan has emerged as one of the major cotton textile product suppliers in the world market, with a share of world yarn trade of about 30% and cotton fabric about 8%, having total export value as US$12.1 billion, which is 56% of the country’s total exports during 2016-17. The export of cotton fabrics from Pakistan decreased from 2.11 billion square meters worth the US $ 3.15 billion in 2015-16 to 1.96 billion square meters worth the US $ 2.14 billion in 2016-17, thus showing a decline of 28% in terms of value. The exports of cotton fabrics iare given in Table 3.

Table 3: Export of Cotton Fabrics


(000 Sq. Mtrs.)

(000 US $)

Unit Price
($/ Sq. Mtr)













2014-15 1,963,277 2,452,636 1.25


2,106,014 2,213,859 1.13


1,961,685 2,136,417 1.15

 Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

The country lost fabric markets in the Bangladesh,  Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. However major markets for Pakistan's fabrics are Bangladesh, China, Turkey, Italy, USA and Germany. The country-wise exports of cotton fabrics are given in Table 4.

Table 4: Country-wise Export of Cotton Fabrics
                                                            Value: (US $ 000)


2016-17 2015-16 2014-15
 Bangladesh 442,598 488,390 444,368
 China 116,794 154,364 232,308
 Italy 152,468 152,209 157,170
 Turkey 41,700 102,601 100,725
 Germany 96,356 99,781 108,884
 USA 90,537 82,572 96,062
 Sri Lanka 76,125 78,353 88,852
 U.K 69,621 62,217 69,389
 Spain 90,637 78,368 83,617
 Belgium 61,022 55,572 63,018
 Netherland 60,958 62,273 64,462
 Egypt 50,772 64,505 74,704
 Portugal 74,476 72,610 68,321
 Korea Republic 37,230 43,258 58,508
 South Africa 45,696 37,567 41,884
 Mexico 37,614 35,154 50,776


32,172 33,324 43,907
 Vietnam 36,311 41,267 38,826
 All others 523,330 469,474 566,851
 Total 2,136,417 2,213,859 2,452,632
 Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics

At present Pakistan is facing the problems of shortage of electricity, gas and increase price of raw materials. The  load shedding along with increasing rates of gas and electricity have obstructed the viability of the textile industry as the exporters were unable to meet their commitments.


  1. All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).
  2. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
  3. State Bank of Pakistan-Annual Reports.
  4. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.


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