Major textile exporters of Pakistan have formed an association with their counterparts from other Asian nations in an effort to remove the obstacles hindering swift export of textile.

“Asian producer associations are joining forces for better purchasing practices in the textile and garment industry,” said a statement issued by the Sustainable Textile of Asian Region (STAR) Network, the first intra-Asian network of producer associations of textile and garment industry.

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA), Pakistan Towel Manufacturers Association (PTMA) and Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) are collaborating with textile exporters from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PTMA Secretary General Muzammil Hussain elaborated that the international textile association was aimed at dealing with major issues pertaining to textile exports.

The network represents over 60% of the global apparel export manufacturers.

STAR Network spokesperson Miran Ali said manufacturers in Asia wanted to collaborate to agree on common positions regarding payment and delivery terms in order to have a stronger voice in individual and collective discussions with brands and buyers on improving purchasing practices.

Pakistani associations have inked agreements with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

In addition, China National Textile and Apparel Council, Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association and Vietnam Textile and Garment Association have also announced collaboration with Pakistani counterparts.

The trade bodies aim to improve purchasing practices such as payment and delivery terms from the perspective of manufacturers as well as associations representing them, making it a true bottom-up initiative. He pointed out that the textile and garment industry had been marred by power imbalance between brands and buyers on the one end, and textile and garment producers on the other end.

The official highlighted that the imbalance deepened further amid the Covid-19 outbreak as order cancellations, especially from European and US brands and buyers, left many Asian producers with their backs against the wall.

“The situation had been difficult before but Covid-19 changed everything,” he said. “However, it does not end with Covid-19.”

The associations have decided to work together in five working groups until March 2021 by defining their requests and recommendations on topics such as payment and delivery practices, planning and information exchange and third-party negotiations.

Based on the output of working groups, the second phase of the initiative will steer rollout in the industry.

Many organisations and networks have already pledged support to the initiative and they will be involved as experts supporting the working groups or as part of an industry advisory board.

The spokesperson said that the STAR Network served as a platform for dialogue and trust-building to exchange good practices in an effort to turn textile and garment production sustainable.

During early phases of the Covid-19 pandemic, the STAR Network called for responsible purchasing practices as long as the crisis persisted.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2021.

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