Pakistan's textile industry is threatening a national shutdown in protest at chronic power cuts across the country.

In a newspaper advertisement yesterday (5 January), the All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA) warned the industry faced total collapse and said it was mulling an orderly closure of the country's textile sector.

Companies are protesting at intermittent power cuts of eight to 12 hours a day, as well as high gas and electricity prices.

Outflows from reservoirs have also been cut for annual irrigation canal cleaning - with the net result that Pakistan is facing a shortage of around 4000 mw or one-third of its energy needs.

Energy shortages have already been blamed for the country's falling exports, with textile and clothing exports during first quarter of the current fiscal year dropping by 1% to US$2.68bn.

Exports of woven ready-made garments fell by 9% to $354m, and knitted garments were down by 3% to $496m

In November, power distribution companies advised the textile industry in Pakistan to make alternative power arrangements using standby systems. It said energy shortages are in store for the next two winters.

Around 60-70% of Pakistan's textile industry runs on gas-based power, and last year its mills went without gas for about 45 days during the winter.

A decision on whether or not to shut down the textile sector is likely to be reached at the end of this week, but there are fears closures would lead to job losses and industrial unrest.