Pakistan hopes to attract more Chinese shoemaking industries – Latest News – The Nation

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BEIJING — As the seventh-largest footwear producer, Pakistan accounts for more than 2.4% of global footwear production, but footwear contributes less than 1% of its global exports.
For a long time, the Pakistani footwear industry has been striving to improve its global competitiveness and expand the scale of its exports through measures such as technological upgrading, import substitution of footwear materials and the improving the quality of the workforce. Based on the substantial improvement in infrastructure, including electricity and transportation, of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan hopes to attract more Chinese shoe-making industries.
Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said in early March that “the footwear industry is one of the four investment areas where Chinese companies could invest in the Pakistan, especially where Pakistan has the potential to export its products”.
How attractive is Pakistan for Chinese shoe companies? What is the area of ​​cooperation between the footwear industries of the two countries? Chen Qianjiang, CEO of a Chinese shoe company Zung Lan Trading (Pvt) Ltd, who has four years of trading experience in Lahore, mentioned a set of patterns in an interview with China Economic Net.
“The combination of Made in Pakistan with Chinese capital and technology, i.e. the integration of the advantageous production factors of Pakistan and China, will help improve Pakistan’s production and enhance international competitiveness. of its products. “Some shoe companies in Pakistan are doing relatively well and have a large scale, such as leather shoes and PU injection sandals are its competitive products, while my company’s advantage is casual shoes and shoes. travel shoes,” Chen said. plenty of room for growth in this regard.
PBS figures also confirm this. In the first eight months of FY 2021-2022, the export volume and value of other footwear increased by 14.16% and 40.58% respectively. Although the export volume of canvas shoes dropped by 41.04%, the export value almost doubled and the unit price almost quintupled. In terms of importing substitute products, there is more space for cooperation. Take the example of shoe materials. Making a pair of shoes requires around 40-200 kinds of materials, while Pakistan’s shoe materials are highly dependent on imports, and the steep depreciation of the rupee has further increased the cost of making shoes.
“For example, the two-tone soles of sports shoes involve soles, sole cushioning accessories and insoles. We encountered local sourcing difficulties when we set up the factory in 2018,” Chen said. According to the report “Improving Competitiveness of Footwear Industry in Pakistan” released by Pakistan Business Council (PBC) in 2021, lack of ancillary or supporting industries is one of the weak links in Pakistan, and the lack of high quality inputs, components and accessories. leads to its heavy dependence on imports. Combining the resources of China’s footwear industry offers a solution. “We provide Chinese technology and molds to Pakistani suppliers, and they produce all kinds of materials according to China’s Wenling specifications and quality parameters,” Chen said, “At present, many shoe accessories sports were produced in Pakistan, especially various materials for bottoms, reducing imports.
In terms of harnessing the demographic dividend, the two countries also have great potential for cooperation. The PBC report shows that the lack of skilled labor is one of the major factors limiting the development of Pakistan’s footwear industry.
Pakistani workers produce an average of 4–5 pairs of shoes per person per day, compared to a global average of 10–12 pairs, which limits Pakistan’s footwear industry to low-end products. According to the report, the shoe industry should develop training programs to develop people’s skills in shoe design, pattern making, cutting and sewing, as well as management skills. At the operational level, Chen’s experience involves selecting a group of Pakistani employees with basic skills. With the instruction of Chinese technicians, they can master the skills of shoe design, pattern making, cutting, sewing, etc. “Now these Pakistani employees have improved a lot and they have started training inexperienced workers. Some well-trained staff are now managers.
Overall, Pakistan’s footwear export prospect, space for import substitution and its demographic dividend have all laid a solid foundation for Pakistan to attract Chinese investment and enhance bilateral cooperation. In the current high inflation environment, shoe companies are also facing a variety of problems. “Ocean freight remains high, nearly five times higher than in previous years, and the cost of transporting materials continues to rise.” Chen hopes the Pakistani government will introduce practical measures to give Chinese small and medium enterprises in Pakistan the same treatment as Pakistani enterprises. In the above report, Chairman Javed Siddiqui of the Footwear Manufacturers Association of Pakistan suggested that if the Pakistani government could provide a little more support in promoting cooperation with Chinese manufacturers, it would go a long way in improving the labor productivity of footwear industry in Pakistan.

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