Apr 062013


The newly established Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) seeks to restructure the scattered furniture clusters in Pakistan to reach the export target of $5 billion for the next five years, though the journey for the PFC is expected to be long and tough, the council members are confident that under PFC’s cover, they will be able to tap the potentially higher revenue stream.

If PFC becomes successful, the furniture industry will become the second largest segment in terms of export volumes in the country.

Currently, the textile sector is the country’s largest industry in terms of exports, exporting $14 billion worth of goods annually. The second largest segment is rice, which generates $2 billion through exports, but Pakistan’s furniture exports stand at a meagre $51 million.

“This is not far-fetched; we only have to reorganise the unorganised sector. We initiated our journey to gain recognition for the industry globally,” said PFC Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Kashif Ashfaq, in an interview with The Express Tribune.

PFC was created by leading furniture and interior entrepreneurs of Pakistan, who have reliable standings locally as well as globally. The lobbying group has been formed to promote sustainable practices with the best networking and education within the furniture industry.

The council aims to push the government to enhance trade and manufacturing that is not limited just to the furniture hubs of Chiniot, Gujrat, Peshawar and Gojra, instead they aim to expand the reach, where skilled artisans and carpenters convert the wood into a piece of art piece.

The council also aims to ensure industry friendly legislation to support both vendors and clients by managing tax regimes and gain ‘favoured industry’ status.

“Firstly, we have to remove hurdles at the lowest level by educating and providing training to furniture entrepreneurs on global standards, especially in solid wood handmade furniture, which is in high demand,” Ashfaq said.

We will also work on classical furniture to promote our culture globally, he added.

PFC will conduct short courses and job branding for the existing workforce to attract people that will equip the industry with the latest technology.

According to the council, through networking, they had already attracted German and Italian manufacturers, who will also bring their presence to Pakistan. The council also wishes to introduce joint ventures through trade commissions for providing machines on lease and also to bring product quality at par with highest international standards.

“Though Pakistani furniture is recognised globally, we will focus on the US, Central Asian and Middle Eastern clusters as our potential market, for which we will hire marketing consultants to promote business via exhibitions,” Ashfaq said.

For greater strength, PFC seeks to prevent the use of sheesham in low-grade furniture to ensure sustainable forestry.

At this stage, PFC is not interested in moderate furniture because of the intense competition from China.

The council believes that once streamlined, this sector will not only create foreign exchange but also create potential jobs, and above all make the Pakistani furniture industry a globally recognised leader.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.

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