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KARACHI: The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, on Thursday said it will help textile manufacturers in Pakistan slash energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to boost their productivity and efficiency.

IFC signed an agreement with US-based clothing and accessories retailer Gap Inc. to increase resource efficiency in its operations in Pakistan and drive long-term sustainability. Under the agreement, which is the first of its kind in the country’s textile industry, IFC’s Advisory Services will assess the use of resources at Gap Inc.’s supplier factories in the country and help them implement efficiency measures to reduce the use of water, energy, chemicals and other resources. This will also help Gap Inc. improve competitiveness and sustainability.

A recent IFC study found that Pakistan’s textiles sector could save nearly 22 percent of its energy consumption and boost productivity by implementing cleaner production practices.

Nadeem Siddiqui, country manager of IFC Pakistan said reducing the consumption of resources is key to improving efficiency and increasing productivity.

“We hope to replicate PaCT’s (IFC’s program for cleaner textiles) success in Pakistan and demonstrate the importance and benefits of such measures in helping to improve sustainability and mitigate climate change,” an IFC’s statement quoted Siddiqui as saying.

Pakistan is the fourth-largest global producer of cotton, with nearly 60 percent of its exports textile related. Textile revenues account for nine percent of the country’s GDP, but the industry also consumes almost 70 percent of the country’s industrial water.

Christina Nicholson, director of Environmental Impact, Global Sustainability at Gap Inc. said the company continues to invest in water, energy and resource efficiency programs that improve environmental and business performance.

“In partnership with IFC, this program will address key impact areas, improve performance and deliver on our environmental impact reduction commitments,” Nicholson said in the statement. The agreement is part of IFC’s global efforts to promote resource efficiency measures in the private sector, which provides savings for companies, improves competitiveness globally, and significantly reduces environmental impacts.

It also draws extensively on knowledge and best practice from PaCT, which was successfully implemented in Bangladesh’s textile sector in 2017 and has helped cut its water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Middle East North Africa’s Regional Resource Efficiency program has been made possible with support from IFC’s development partner, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

The global development institution IFC delivered a record $ 19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries in FY2017, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity.

In recent years, the country’s textile sector has become an attraction for foreign investors and globally famous brands.

Uniqlo Inc – a subsidiary of Japanese retail holding company Fast Retailing Inc. – planned joint ventures with three local companies to meet outsourcing demand of its 3,000 outlets worldwide.

Earlier this year, Spanish Inditex Group, the world’s biggest clothes retailer and owner of an internationally-acclaimed fashion brand Zara, opened its maiden branch office in Pakistan to double its imports from the country. Other key foreign buying houses in the country include IKEA, Walmart Global Procurement, Li and Fung Pakistan, Target and JC Penny.

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