Pakistan's Garment Industry Could Become More Competitive Than Bangladesh Due To Massive Currency Devaluationpermalink
The government of the world’s second biggest garment exporter behind China said this week it would consider demands for an increase in the minimum wage, after clashes between police and protesters killed one worker and wounded dozens. The government said in September that the minimum wage for garment workers would increase by up to 51 percent this year to 8,000 taka ($95) a month, the first such increase since 2013. But union leaders say that increase will benefit only a small percentage of workers in the garment sector, which employs 4 million in the country of 165 million people. Low wages and trade deals with Western countries have made the sector a $30 billion industry accounting for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports.
Pakistan started to devalue its currency beginning from 2017 and until now it has depreciated more than 50% against the US Dollar, triggering a ripple effect across its export sector, and making it more competitive in low-wages industries. PKRUSD
With regard to garment industry, Bangladesh1 had a per month minimum wage of $64 in 2018 versus $136 in Pakistan. However things have quite changed since then in 2019, Bangladesh has raised the wages to $95 and on the contrary Pakistan’s minimum wage per month declined to $1072 due to massive currency devaluation.
However, the chances of the textile and clothing exporters increasing their share in international trade — both in terms of export value and quantity — despite emerging global opportunities are minimal because of the shrinking size of the industry. The industry’s capacity to produce exportable surplus has contracted substantially because of factory closures on the back of crippling energy shortages that hit the economy in the second half of 2000s, the previous government’s obsession for an overvalued rupee, lack of investment in new more efficient technologies and capacity, the controversial free trade agreement with China and so on.
However lower wages alone are not going to help Pakistan increase its global market share, due to lack of the production capacity as the above article stated. Government must work toward attracting foreign investment in the textile and garment sector., as well as encourage local industrialists by facilitating them with cheaper energy prices, and waiving duties and taxes on the import of textile machinery and its parts altogether.
1. A historical fact, Bangladesh was known as East Pakistan until the 1971 fiasco that led to division of the two parts. West Pakistan is now simply referred to as Pakistan.
2. The data is based on the source Renaissance Capital and adjusted to open market exchange rates, it may not be 100% accurate nevertheless provides a reasonable guidance.