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Pakistan government lifts ban on Indian cotton imports

In a move that would bring a smile on the faces of thousands of traders and importers, the Pakistan government has lifted an ‘undeclared’ ban on import of ginned cotton from India. It has also pledged to strictly implement all phyto sanitary and other conditions governing the fibre’s imports on future incoming shipments via surface or sea.

Earlier, the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research put cotton imports from India on hold through Wagah and Karachi port from November 23, saying shipments did not fulfill phyto sanitary conditions. However, traders claimed that rising border tensions between the two neighbours had prompted Islamabad to impose the ban on Indian cotton.

The DPP had started issuing permits for importing cotton from India via Wagah. But the DPP has also made it clear to importers that only the consignments free from cotton seeds will be accepted and allowed into the country. Traders said none of these conditions is new.

Last year, Pakistan imported ginned cotton worth more than $800 million from India which accounted for two-thirds of India’s cotton exports. Traders are expecting cotton imports from India and elsewhere to surge this year in view of the anticipated shortfall in the domestic crop. It was in the last year that a drop of 27 per cent in domestic cotton output was seen. This has taken away 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product growth rate, according to the budget for the ongoing year.