LAHORE: A three-day Textile Asia exhibition began in Lahore at Expo Centre on Saturday. Information Minister inaugurated the exhibition jointly organised by the Pakistan Readymade Garments and Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) and E-commerce Gateway Pakistan. More than 450 stalls were displayed at the trade fair of garments, embroidery, machinery, digital printing, chemicals and allied services. The Textile Asia exhibition is the largest event of its kind and provides an effective podium for joint ventures and collaborations among the local textile industry and international entrepreneurs, where 315 exhibitors from 27 countries displayed more than 310 brands. This year over 50,000 people are expected to visit the exhibition including 550 foreign delegates from trade and corporate sectors. Since the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has opened up a world of opportunities for both Pakistan and China, the focus is on linking Chinese small manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) to Pakistani SMEs. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the Chinese government invested $36 billion in Pakistan, which would not only be beneficial for the industry but also for the households. “Provision of jobs and strengthening of economy are two top priorities of the government and this exhibition fulfils both these objectives by bringing the investors and entrepreneurs together,” he maintained. Promotion of business opportunities not only helps investors and businessmen but also has a multiplier effect that strengthens the economy and benefits the entire nation, he added. Stronger economy also allows the government to have more funds to do public work. Hence, an exhibition results in a range of benefits beyond the immediate monetary gains, he remarked. In his remarks, the PRGMEA chairman said, “Our aim is to maximise value addition. We intend to promote production of raw materials in Pakistan so that actual value addition takes place in our industry and benefits our economy.” Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton producing country in the world but it has failed in converting this into value-added products. It fetches only $1.17 billion per million bales whereas our competitors like Bangladesh gets $6 billion and India gets $1.97 billion for same quantity. Despite highly competitive global market, Pakistan’s apparel industry has proven its strength by pushing export by 4.83 percent in 2015-16. Garments industry, overall, is least energy and capital-intensive and thus well suited for Pakistan’s resource endowment to generate economic growth and development. Textile sector contributed more than $12.4 million (nearly 60 percent) in exports in the year 2015-16.