Pakistan saw its garment and textile exports fall by nearly 8% in the first ten months of its current fiscal year as the sector continues to be hampered by safety and security issues and a lack of modernisation.

The latest figures from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) show textile exports fell 7.72% to US$10.39bn in the period from July 2015 to April 2016, from $11.26bn in the prior-year period.

Ready-made garments accounted for $1.80bn of that total, increasing 5.3% from $1.71bn in the prior year period, while knitted garments dropped 2% to $1.93bn from $1.97bn. Footwear, which is reported separately, saw exports drop 17.9% to $89.3m as a result of a drop in exports of leather footwear to $72.2m from $92m a year earlier.

Pakistan, which employs around 800,000 people in its textile and apparel sector, has seen its exports increase at a higher rate than the world average, but Bangladesh has experienced the largest increase in global market share in the south Asia region, according to a recent World Bank report. 

The country benefits from zero duty on exports to the EU under GSP+, which came into force at the beginning of 2014. However, product diversity and availability is a key concern facing the country's textile industry, and its security issues have put off many buyers from travelling there.

Textiles and apparel currently contribute nearly 70% to Pakistan's total export earnings. The country's second Textile Policy, announced in 2015, aims to double textile and clothing exports by 2020. 

Last month, a 'buyers forum' in Pakistan initiated plans to improve labour conditions in the country's textile and garment supply chain through policy dialogue, training and compliance with labour laws. 

It was agreed that collective work will be undertaken aimed at improving working conditions in the factories they work with, and influencing their supply chains through policy and advocacy and enterprise improvement programmes to promote sector growth through better compliance initiatives. 

Pakistan initiates supply chain remedy programme