Monthly textile exports rose by 33% in July. The export figure was was an improvement over the corresponding month last year, registering a 14.4% increase. Significant increases were also  seen in all subcategories of finished products, including garments, bedding, and cloth.

. Despite domestic lockdown easing, manufacturing is still down by over 6% compared to last year, and experts have said that the rise in textile exports was a direct result of the lockdown as importers had run out of stocks and needed to urgently refresh them. And even though exports rose universally in dollar terms, quantities exported fell in several categories. Exports of raw materials were also down. These numbers become even more concerning when we note that last year was actually a pretty bad one for the textile sector. Exports in the recently-ended financial year were down 6% compared to a year earlier.

However, it is worth noting that exports of several items that fall within the domain of personal protective equipment (PPE) had been restricted by the government since the Covid-19 pandemic began. That policy is about to change, and reports suggest that exporters are already being approached by foreign buyers wanting to buy PPE, often at premium prices. Broadly speaking, even non-textile PPE is readily available from Pakistan, which is why a small fortune is to be made for those producing disposable gowns, disposable gloves, face shields, biohazard bags, goggles, shoe covers, and hand sanitiser. Restrictions on the export of N95 masks and standard surgical masks are also expected to be gone by the end of the week, opening another large international market.

But it remains to be seen how long the demand for these items will remain high. The pandemic will end some day, and as the people of the world will return to their everyday unmasked existence, the problems keeping our textile sector from being competitive internationally will come back to haunt us.