During the 1960s and 1970s, light industry expanded rapidly— especially textiles, sugar refining, fertilizers, and other manufactures derived from local raw materials. Large government investments in the 1970s established the country's first large-scale ship-building and steel milling operations; the production of chemical fertilizers was also given special government support. The Pakistan Industrial Development Corp., established in the early 1980s with IDA credit, developed industrial estates for small- and medium-scale industries, assisting their occupants in obtaining credit, raw materials, technical and managerial assistance, access to production facilities, as well as marketing support. Despite steady overall industrial growth during the 1980s, the sector remains concentrated in cotton processing, textiles, food processing and petroleum refining.
The 1973 nationalization program, which placed 10 basic industries wholly within the public sector, was reversed in 1991 with the enactment of an ambitious privatization program. In 1992, the government began auctioning off majority control in nearly all public sector industrial enterprises, including those manufacturing chemicals, fertilizers, engineering products, petroleum products, cement, automobiles, and other industrial products requiring a high level of capital investment, to private investors. In 1995, however, the speed of privatization began to slow as the sale of some large state-owned units were stalled and postponed. In 2002, the public industrial sector, under the Production Wing of the Ministry of Industries and Production consisted of eight public holding companies—Pakistan Steel, the State Cement Corporation (PACO), Federal Chemical and Ceramics Corporation (FCCC), State Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Corporation (PERAC), State Engineering Corporation (SEC), the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the state fertilizer corporation and Pakistan Automobile Corporation. The majority of the 74 production enterprises controlled by these holding companies have been privatized, and most of those remaining are scheduled to be sold. The public sector continues to dominate in steel, heavy engineering, automobiles, petroleum and defense-related production.
Cotton textile production is the most important of Pakistan's industries, accounting for about 19% of large-scale industrial employment, and 60% of total exports in 2000/01. Pakistan has become self-sufficient in cotton fabrics and exports substantial quantities. Some long and extra-long staple cotton is imported to meet demand for finer cottons. About 80% of the textile industry is based on cotton, but factories also produce synthetic fabrics, worsted yarn and jute textiles. Jute textile output amounted to 70,100 tons in 1999/00. The textile industry as a whole employs about 38% of the industrial work force, accounts for 8.5% of GDP, 31% of total investment, and 27% of industrial value-added.
Other important industries include food processing, chemicals manufacture, and the iron and steel industries. Food processing is considered Pakistan's largest industry, accounting for slightly more than 27 of value-added production. Pakistan Steel, the country's only integrated steel mill, employs about 14,500 workers and has an annual production capacity of 1.1 million tons. The government plans to expand the mill's annual capacity to 3 million tons. Pakistan Steel produces coke, pig iron, billets, hot and cold rolled coils and sheets, and galvanized sheets. In June 1999, the first tin-plating plant began operation, a joint venture with Japan.
Pakistan has ten fertilizer plants, six state-owned and four private, with a total annual production capacity of 4.65 million tons. Production in 2000/01 was 3.66 million tons, up 10.5% from 1999/00. There are 21 cement plants, four state-owned and 17 private, with an annual production capacity of 19.2 million tons. Production in 1999/00 was 9.9 million tons., up 4% from 1999/98. Pakistan's chemical industry produces an number of basic chemicals used in its other industries, including soda ash, caustic soda and sulfuric acid. Industrial output from other major industries also includes refined sugar, vegetable ghee, urea, rubber tubes, electric motors, electrical consumer products (light bulbs, air conditioners, fans refrigerators, freezers, TV sets, radios, and sewing machines), and pharmaceuticals