Cotton yarn prices have reached historically high levels in Pakistan after surging more than 30% in the last month alone - leading to fears that the country's few value-added textile makers may be forced to close, and that Christmas orders may shift to Bangladesh.

The increase in yarn prices follows historic rises in cotton prices on both domestic and international markets, and higher demand for yarns from China and Hong Kong.

In Pakistan, cotton has been trading at around PKR127 (US$1.50) per pound, which is about 130% more than the last year.

Garment makers in the country claim there is a shortage of yarn for domestic consumption and are demanding the government impose a complete ban exports of cotton and cotton yarns.

Ijaz Khokhar, chairman of the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), told just-style that the value-added industry is facing raw material shortages due to increased shipments of yarns and fabrics to China and other Far eastern countries.

He fears garment orders for the Christmas season will shift to Bangladesh if the availability of raw material does not improve.

But M Yasin Siddik, vice chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), denies there is a shortage of cotton yarns in the local market.

In a statement he said yarn exports in the first quarter of the current fiscal year are 46,851 tons lower than the same period last year - thereby making 28% more yarn available in the domestic market.