At a time when the domestic cotton industry of Pakistan has been begging for permission to import cotton from India in order to run their own business, Islamabad has rejected a consignment of 10,000 bales of Indian cotton worth $3.3 million citing aviolation of ‘plant quarantine rules’ by importers. A leading Pakistani news agency reported that the Plant Quarantine and Certification Services Office of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research Department of Plant Protection, situated in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, had rejected the consignment.The shipment of ginned cotton was imported by seven textile mills and is currently sittingat the Karachi Port.
In 2015 alone, Pakistan had imported2.7 million bales of ginned cotton (cotton fibre separated from the seeds) worth $800 million were imported from India to make up for the shortfall after the cotton crop failed due to unseasonal rainfall and adverse weather. Ginned cotton is especially important as the fibres are processed into various cotton goods such as linen, and any undamaged cotton is subsequently used for clothes. Sources claimed the private sector of Pakistan’s textile industry has imported around 1.2 million cotton bales from different countries and orders for 0.3 million bales of Indian cotton had been placed already. Cotton imported from countries other than India was cleared by the customs authorities without any issue, it seems, thereby asserting the fact that only Indian cotton was banned.
The senior vice-chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Zahid Mazhar, was highly critical of the Pakistan government’s policy of not allowing cotton imports from India. “The industry needs around four million bales of imported cotton this year to meet the supply shortfalls,” he added. This comes in the backdrop of the fact that the country is expected to produce around 10.05 million bales this year against an estimated demand of 15 million bales, leaving behind an estimated shortfall of around 4 million bales. According to ‘India Brand Equity Foundation’, a trust established by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India is the second largest textile & clothing exporter in the entire world, contributing around 5 percent to the global textile and clothing trade.