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February 21, 2019

Pakistan to Allow Duty-Free Import of 5 Million Cotton Bales

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Commerce Ministry to make arrangement for duty-free import of 5 million cotton bales, as low production of staple hits the country’s exports.

Pakistan, the world’s fourth biggest cotton producer, is facing sharp decline in cotton production in 2116/17 crop year as farmers switch more profitable crops. The total output is expected at around 8.0 million bales, according to US Department of Agriculture.

Cotton and textile are the mainstay of country’s exports and accounts for over 50 percent of overall exports.  Shortfall in cotton production is likely to impact global prices. Cotton area is down around 15 percent this year.

In a meeting with country’s leading exporters, Sharif directed the Commerce Ministry to immediately prepare a proposal for the duty-free import of 5 million bale cotton bales. He promised short, medium and long-term relief to exporters in the wake of sluggish world market.

Energy shortages have multiplied miseries of textile makers and many factories were forced to close in past several years. Exporters lauded the decision of the government to import LNG to make up for the shortfall. The government has assured no load-shedding for the industrial sector despite power shortages.

Pakistan textile exporters are feeling the pinch of cotton shortfall since last year. Overall production in 2015/16 was 9.7 million bales, and the country imported more than 4 million bales to meet needs of the textile sector. Pakistan’s total cotton needs fluctuate between 15 million and 16 million bales.

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