An overview of the Pakistan textile dyeing and finishing industry
by Professor Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education.

Textile Processing is one of the most value-added and export-oriented sector of the textile industry in Pakistan.

Pakistan textiles and apparel worth US$ 12.5 billion were exported from Pakistan in 2019-20, in which apparel contributed 20% and textiles 80%. It contributes 8.5% to the GDP of Pakistan. In addition, the sector employs about 40% of the total labour force in the country.

The dyeing, printing and finishing sectors have seen remarkable improvements in textile technology over the years, to meet increasingly stringent requirements of lower usage of chemical, water and energy.

Today’s finishing machines provide economical and profitable production while meeting all stringent requirements. With rapid changes in fashion, the textile industry is making a steady shift towards prints, rather than dyed fabrics.

The market for textile printing is closely linked to consumer demand for apparel/clothing, home furnishings and decor. Steady population growth, increasing purchasing capability, and rapidly changing fashion trends are among the key factors driving the growth in the textile printing market.

The steady shift towards digital textile printing driven by the technology’s ability to accelerate production speeds, and reduce coloration costs, is another factor in the steady growth in the market. Technology advancements and innovations associated with inks and consumables, print heads, and printing machinery remain vital to market growth.

Screen printing represents the largest market sector by type of technology. Though facing stiff competition from the rapid adoption of digital technology, conventional screen printing continues to hold a major share of the global textile printing market, in terms of production volume of printed textiles. Growth in the coming years will be driven largely by the digital textile printing market.

The market for digital textile printing in Pakistan is increasing as it offers better and high-definition textile print design possibilities, lower water, effluent, emissions and energy use with economical production of “short-run medium run” prints to the market. The shorter delivery brings in increased savings to retailers and brands as digital printing hubs are based on proximity sourcing and just-in-time printing and sourcing strategies.

Textile processing

Pakistan’s textile finishing industry comprises of almost 731 units, the majority of which independent and complementary to the weaving industry. About 650 independent processing units are working in and around Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Karachi, in which about 50 integrated units have complete finishing facilities.

These integrated units have complete finishing facilities i.e., bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing, calendaring and printing. These units from the power loom sector procure cloth and after processing they are marketed under their brand names in the domestic market.

The weaving and made-up sectors have three different subsectors in weaving viz. integrated, independent weaving units and power loom sector. The cloth is being produced in both the mill and non-mill sectors. Pakistan’s fabrics range from coarse to super varieties. There are a large number of vertically integrated units, where production is controlled from fibre to the end product, and marketed abroad directly.

The production of cloth (mill and non-mill sectors) decreased from 9.16 billion square meters in 2015-16 to 9.11 billion square meters in 2019-20, thus showing an average decrease of 2.5% per annum. Out of total production of cloth during 2019-20 in mill sector, 50% produced in grey form, 34% dyed and printed, and 16% blended and bleached. Production of cloths mill sector is given in Table-1.

Table 1: Production of Cloth (Mill Sector)
Million sq. meters

Year Blended



Dyed and Printed


2015-16 60 570 85 324 1,039
2016-17 55 560 90 338 1,043
2017-18 50 570 85 339 1,044


50 530 83 383 1,046
2019-20 51 550 85 374 1,060

   Source: Textile Commissioner Organisation Government of Pakistan

Import of machinery

Textile Policy 2020-25 allow various incentives including cash subsidies and lower rates on utilities worth Rs 960 billion to boost production and exports of value-added textile products.

The proposed policy, which will be the third such policy, estimates three scenarios that the measures will lift the textile and clothing exports to a minimum of US$ 15.7 billion and a maximum of US$ 20.8 billion by end of the year 2025.

Import of textile dyeing and finishing machines decreased from Rs 9.28 billion in 2018-19 to Rs 8.85 billion in 2019-20, thus showing decline of 5% in terms of value. Import of textile dyeing and finishing machinery into Pakistan are given in Table-2.

Table 2: Imports of Textile Dyeing and Finishing Machines
                                                               Quantity: Numbers    
                                                            Value: Rs. in Million


2018-19 2019-20




 Bleaching machines. 13 536 5 862
 Drying machines. 464 2,952 395 3245
 Coating or laminating machines. 4,391 147 167 81
 Machinery for pressing 62 24 361 72
 Dressing and finishing machines. 113 199 43 161
 Mercerizing machines. 15 780 11 789
 Sanforizing machines. 21 720 3 27
 Stentering machines. 54 812 73 174
 Shrinking machines. 6 230 1 77
 Other drying machines. 2,634 2,881 3,778 3,360


7,773 9,281 4,837 8,848

   Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Import of dyes and Pigments

The textile industry is among the largest users of chemicals globally and is highly water-intensive. Over 2000 different chemicals are used in the industry, which accounts for almost 25% of the chemicals produced globally.

The textile industry is estimated to use more water than any industry globally and almost all water discharged is highly polluted.

Dyeing and finishing processes account for 90% of the total textile wastewater. Fibre wastewater discharge amounts to 12% and another textile processing account for 8% of effluent discharge. Developing a solution that minimizes the utilization of water and at the same time reduces pollution is the need of the hour.

This has raised concerns and subsequently led to the adherence of strict rules and standards to protect the environment and practice sustainable working. Hence adopting eco-friendly methods and bio-degradable substances for dyeing and finishing processes in textile and garment making can save resources of nature and reduce chemical landfill in a big way.

The import of various dyes and pigments in Pakistan decreased from Rs 25.86 billion in 2018-19 to Rs 31.08 billion in 2019-20. Imports of dyes and pigments in Pakistan are given in Table 3.

Table 3: Imports of Dyes and Pigments in Pakistan
                                                             Value: Rs. in Million




 Disperse Dyes. 2,718 4,697 4,421
 Acid Dyes Premetalise. 1,945 2,618 1,756
 Basic Dyes. 869 1,223 1,090
 Direct Dyes. 399 640 451
 Vat Dyes Indigo Blue. 3,842 6,500 5,989
 Other Vat Dyes. 1,122 1,385 1,413
 Reactive Dyes. 9,227 12,273 9,418
 Pigments Preparation. 3,038 3,259 3,006
 Dyes Sulphur. 1,965 2,382 2,398
 Other Dyes synthetic. 225 434 503
 Liquid Pigments and Preparation. -- 454 636


25,350 35,865 31,081

   Source: Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Import of organic chemicals with increasing global awareness regarding the issues of environment and pollution, the improved environmental performance has become a major factor in the dynamics of the world markets and successful businesses around the globe are striving to achieve the goals of responsible environmental behaviour.

To enhance and sustain the textile exports of Pakistan it is essential to address the associated environmental problems on an urgent basis. Import of organic chemicals in Pakistan decreased from US$ 2.67 billion in 2018- 19 to US$ 2.16 billion in 2019-20, thus showing a decline of 19%. Imports of organic chemicals in Pakistan are given in Table 4.

Table 4: Imports of Organic Chemicals in Pakistan

Year Value US$ Million
2015-16 1,864
2016-17 2,116
2017-18 2,611


2019-20 2,158

   Source: State Bank of Pakistan - Annual Reports.

Problems and Prospects

The biggest challenge for the past year in global economies and their supply chains was the COVID-19 itself. One of South Asia’s textile manufacturing countries, Pakistan also faced difficulty throughout the period but surprisingly within a few months, the country’s textile sector was moved on the track.

The main challenges are energy crises, fluctuating yarn prices, shortage of gas supply and load shading, devaluation of Pakistani currency, lack of research and development (R&D) institutions, lack of modern equipment and machinery and production cost.

The government has recently announced a lucrative energy package for the industry to help the exporters. The package does away with peak electricity rates, offers reduced tariffs on additional power consumption, and fixes power price at US$ 0.07 a unit and gas tariff at $0.065 MMBtu for the export industries.

The Central bank has reduced interest rates by 625bps, approved refinancing of wages and deferred payments of the principal amount of loans, provided relief under the Export Financing Scheme (EFS) and the Long-Term Financing Facility (LTFF). Furthermore, the State Bank has also launched a long-term facility.

Consumers in the developed countries are now concerned about green activities and choose products that are non-toxic and cause no harm to either the user or the environment. This trend for eco-friendly products has been extended to textile apparel products, particularly those products which directly come into contact with the skin for prolonged periods. The requirements for socially responsible production and processing are increasing every day. The dyeing printing and finishing sector have seen remarkable improvements in textile technology over the years, to meet these increasingly stringent requirements of lower use of chemicals, water and energy. Today’s finishing machines provide economical and profitable production while meeting all stringent requirements.


  3. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics
  4. State Bank of Pakistan-Annual Reports
  5. Textile Commissioner Organisation, Government of Pakistan


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