Pakistan's textile and clothing exports have risen by 8.5% to US$6.46bn in the first six months of the current fiscal year, after a surge in demand from garment importers in Europe and US.

Monthly exports were up by 12.48% in December, according to the latest data released by the country's Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS).

Figures showed the export value of cotton yarn increased by 39% to US$1.09bn in the six months from July to December, while woven readymade garments went up by 13% to US$897m, and cotton cloth surged by 12% to US$1.29bn.

Footwear exports increased 1.52% to US$48m in the period, led by a 21% increase in exports of canvas footwear and a rise of 8% in footwear made from other materials.

Textile and clothing exports could reach US$18bn by the end of the fiscal year - which runs from July 2012 to June 2013 - if authorities pledge to provide regular energy supplies to the textile industry, claims Gohar Ejaz, group leader of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).

But Adil Butt, chairman of the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA), fears the impact of energy shortages on exports will be apparent in coming months.

The textile industry in the northern part of Pakistan has been without gas since the first week of December, along with 8-hour daily power cuts.

Authorities, however, have been promoting textile exports by providing subsidies in the form of drawback on taxes, loans at reduced rates, reimbursements on social security taxes, tax-free import of machinery, and keeping the domestic currency value at a lower level.