The Garment and Textile Training Programs 27th graduation last Friday, highlighted a lot of issues in this industry. One that stood out the most was the fact that the industry is a sleeping giant in PNG. Richard Yakam, First Assistant Secretary – Trade Division, Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry highlighted this during his speech.
The garment and textile industry plays a significant role in developing countries in terms of trade, GDP and employment. The industry provides opportunities for export diversification and expansion of manufactured exports for low-income countries that can exploit their labour cost advantages and fill emerging niches and meet demands.
Textile and garment (T&G) industries are a major contributor to selected countries. In developing countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, T&G exports are far more than 50% of its total manufacturing exports making them highly dependent on this industry.
T&G also has a significant impact on employment in these countries. In Bangladesh, 75% of employment comes from the T&G industry. And globally the T&G industry employs 60-75 million people. It is estimated to be worth around US$4.4 trillion with global trade totalling US$600 billion.
With this kind of demand in the global market, Yakam believes that PNG can excel in the textile and garment industry if promoted effectively. Yakam believes that with the fast growing population there is huge potential for the industry to be tapped into.
“The demand is here-we do not necessarily have to export our products, we can just sell them locally,” said Yakam.
PNG imports most of its clothing items overseas. The total import of textile and garment products stood at K150 million in 2015 and will increase every year as our population increases. Not to mention PNG’s total import of second-hand clothing stands between K5-7 million per annum and is increasing.
The government is keen on diversifying the economy and would like to cut down the import bills on goods that PNG can produce and meet its own local demand. These certain goods include rice, vegetables, dairy products and; garment and clothing. Whilst the cost of production in PNG is high due to a number of factors, the necessary policy and incentives will create the right business climate for PNG to produce its goods to meet its own growing demands.
To address this issue the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Hon. Richard Maru, has directed the Ministry headed by SMEC to conduct a study on the garment and textile industry in the country with a view to put in place appropriate policy measures to grow this sector. Their main objective is to cut down on the import bill and produce high quality clothing to meet the local demand. They are hoping that the study will support incentives to grow the garment and textile industry.