LAHORE: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Investment, Industries and Textile Abdul Razak Dawood has said that the second phase of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China is going to be operational from the beginning of December 2019. “This will help Pakistan to come on a par with Asean states in the Chinese market, providing a huge opportunity in shape of tariff relaxation to the manufacturers, especially the garment sector, to enhance their export volume with the potential to grow 20 times,” he said. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 35th International Apparel Federation World Fashion Convention, organised by the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) on Tuesday, Dawood pointed out that garment exports were on an upward trajectory because of the additional market access secured by the government. “I invite all foreign investors to bring investment to Pakistan as this is a golden opportunity for them and should be availed; we are paying special attention to the garment sector in a bid to increase the export base, which we believe will increase more than 20%,” he said. Referring to the decline in exports of yarn and fabrics, the adviser described it as a good sign as it would provide an opportunity for the textile sector to focus more on value addition. “I welcome IAF President Han Bekke for choosing Pakistan this year for this important event and appreciate the struggle of Prgmea for making the event a success,” the adviser added. He was of the view that after the World Fashion Convention in Pakistan, the economy of the country would be more integrated with the global economy and the linkage would bring foreign investment. Dawood emphasised that the convention would prove to be an unprecedented positive event in the country’s business environment, which would enhance the overall image of the country and help promote investment in the country. Government’s major economic agenda is to increase exports, which will strengthen the economy by overcoming trade and current account deficits,” the adviser remarked, adding that the FTA phase-II was going to facilitate access for 313 top export goods to the Chinese market. After the agreement, all major exports of the country, especially of the value-added textile products, are getting greater access to the Chinese market. “Now, China has provided Pak with an opportunity to export chemicals and engineering goods as well, as the govt wants to take exports to the highest-ever level through business-friendly policies,” Dawood said. He stressed that the govt was taking different measures for enhancing exports including recapturing the traditional markets besides gaining access to new markets. Dawood revealed that Chinese companies were exploring business opportunities in the textile sector in LHR and Faisalabad. “These companies have started locating business centres in different parts of the country.” Speaking at the ceremony, IAF President Han Bekke pointed out that IAF was the only global federation that represented apparel associations from 60 countries and had overall membership of more than 150,000 companies. “Pakistan is also a member of IAF and its regional office has been set up in Sialkot. Pakistan’s apparel sector is globally renowned, especially its denim brand. IAF will facilitate Prgmea in boosting Pakistan’s apparel sector,” Bekke said. He said IAF brought together apparel buyers and manufacturers on one platform and that crucial relationship was at the heart of the conference as “we focus on growing together”. He said the convention had gathered apparel industry leaders from across the globe and provided a unique opportunity for the Pakistani apparel industry to learn new techniques. IAF Regional President and Prgmea Chief Coordinator Ijaz Khokhar said the convention was aimed at opening new avenues for the domestic garment industry in order to collaborate with the international buyers and leading global brands. He pointed out that the event had been attended by world-class speakers, offering networking opportunities during the conference. “The convention is held every year in one of the member countries; Russia and Bangladesh had also applied for the 35th convention, however, Pakistan won the bid with proper presentation,” he said.