Lahore: The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has demanded the government to allow import of cheap cotton from India to ensure continuity in export growth.
"Government must accord immediate remedial measures by lifting the ban on import of Indian cotton to meet its industrial requirements," PTEA Pattron-in-Chief Khurram Mukhtar said in a statement.
Textile export industry has entered into a sustainable economic growth phase; focusing to achieve $21 billion mark in FY23; however, scarcity of raw materials may put the growth on reverse gear.
Mukhtar said textile industry has picked up a growing pace witnessing a sharp surge of 4.18% year-on-year to $3.05 billion in the first two months of FY23.
"However, emergence of an economic crisis will be an instant setback, coupled with rising manufacturing expenses and escalating prices and shortage of raw material are among various factors which may hit the growing trend."
Elaborating further, the textiler exporter said torrential rains and floods have engulfed Pakistan’s cotton fields resulting in irreparable loss to the sector.
A total of 25 percent of the standing cotton crop over 210,000 acres of land has been affected due to the floods and there is a possibility of raw material shortage in Pakistan.
Country’s textile sector requires about 12-14 million cotton bales on an annual basis, though local cotton production is expected to be around 6.5 million to 7.5 million bales this year and this shortfall is expected to be met through imports.
"We will have to import 1.5 million additional bales during the current year, he said. Supporting the idea of importing cotton from India, he said that prices of the commodity had declined over there in recent weeks so it will not affect our competitiveness, Government must allow raw cotton and vegetable import from India to deal with the prevailing situation, he stressed.
This would also be better for the country’s balance of payments situation compared to importing from countries that were farther and had heavier logistics costs. He urged for immediate lifting of ban on import of cotton from India.
PTEA’s Chairman Sohail Pasha was of the view that ban on cross border trade with India is hurting the crisis-hit country in the wake of floods which has caused scarcity of commodities and pushed up prices and textile exporters are forced to pay a higher price for raw materials.
He pointed out that country has seen a rapid recovery of exports since the removal of coronavirus-related restrictions as its outbound shipments in recent months have actually risen faster.
However, scarcity of basic raw material may shatter all the efforts and textile exports would fall. Reduced textile exports would worsen the situation for the already ailing and overburdened economy, he added.
Cotton import from other countries like US, Brazil and Egypt is not only expensive but would also take one to two months to reach Pakistan. Whereas importing cotton from India would be far cheaper and would reach Pakistan within three to four days.
He stressed that the government has to act promptly in this regard to avert a cotton crisis as according to estimates, 25 percent of cotton crop has been completely swept away during floods.
"Opening the cross-border trade would allow imports of agricultural crops from India so that our country’s food needs and also the industry’s agricultural input requirements could be met immediately and it would be possible within the shortest possible time at competitive rates."
Pasha said the government must accord immediate remedial measures as further delay will seize the industrialization, halt the export growth and lead to unmanageable level of unemployment.
In order to overcome the scarcity of basic raw material, he demanded to allow cross-border import of cotton from India to ensure continuity in export growth, he added.
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