The Pakistan Textile industry is the largest manufacturing industry in the country and has an overwhelming impact on the economy, contributing 57% to the Pakistan’s exports. Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile products in Asia. This sector contributes 8.5% to the GDP. In addition, the sector employs about 45% of the total labour force in the country and 38% of the manufacturing workers.
Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of cotton with the third largest spinning capacity in Asia after China and India and contributes 5% to the global spinning capacity. At present, there are 1,221 ginning units, 442 spinning units, 124 large spinning units and 425 small units which produce textile.
In the 1950s, textile manufacturing emerged as a central part of Pakistan's industrialization, shortly following independence from the British rule in the subcontinent. In 1974, the Pakistan government established the Cotton Export Corporation (CEC). The CEC served as a barrier to private manufacturers from participating in international trade.
However, in the late 1980s, the role of the CEC diminished and by 1988-89, private manufacturers were able to buy cotton from ginners and sell in both domestic and foreign markets. Between 1947 and 2000, the number of textile mills in Pakistan increased from 3 to 600. In the same time period, spindles increased from 177,000 to 805 million.
Before independence from British rule in 1947, Pakistan was part of the subcontinent. The origin of the subcontinent's textiles is thought to be the Indus Valley civilization, where people used homespun cotton to weave garments. Historically, the subcontinent engaged in significant trade with the rest of the world. Subcontinent's silk, for example, is known to have been popular in Rome, Egypt, Britain, and Indonesia.
There are six primary sectors of the textile production in Pakistan:
Filament yarn manufacturing
Cotton is the largest segment of textile production. Other fibres produced include synthetic fibre, filament yarn, art silk, wool, and jute.
Cotton: Cotton spinning is perhaps the most important segment in the Pakistan textile industry with 521 units installed and operational.
Synthetic fibres: Within synthetic fibres, nylon, polyester, acrylic, and polyolefin dominate the market. There are currently five major producers of synthetic fibres in Pakistan, with a total capacity of 636,000 tons per annum.
Filament yarn: Three types of filament yarn are produced in Pakistan. These are acetate rayon yarn, polyester filament yarn, and nylon filament yarn. There are currently about 6 units in the country.
Artificial Silk: This fibre resembles silk but costs less to produce. There are about 90,000 looms in the country.
Wool: The main products manufactured from wool include yarn, acrylic yarn, fabrics, shawls, blankets, and carpets.
Jute: Jute sakes and hessian cloth are primarily used for packing agricultural products such as grain and rice.