Pakistan government to meet the growing needs of key textile industry has allowed cotton imports from India, but at the same time tough set of rules imposed for consignments from the neighboring country, officials said on Thursday. Pakistan, which is the worldâ€™s fourth largest cotton producing country, falls short of around four million bales a year to meet the local demand of nearly 16 million bales.
An official said that Pakistan is likely to start issuing permit for import of cotton from India through land route in a next few days under new tough conditions that may not fully ease already imposed restrictions on trade.
The permit from the Department of Plant Protection of Pakistanâ€™s food ministry is mandatory, under the new phytosanitary conditions, for import of unprocessed cotton, including raw or seed cotton, cotton lint, linters, cotton waste and cotton stuffing from India.
The National Plant Protection Organisation would inspect and test the consignments according to appropriate procedures and to ensure the goods are free from biosecurity pests. The goods must be clean and free of contaminant seed, soil and plant debris and other bio-security risk material prior to arrival in Pakistan, the department said in a letter.
Naseem Usman, chairman of Karachi Cotton Brokers Association expected an import of around 0.7 million bales from India this year. Textile mills have signed import contracts of 1.8 million bales from countries, including US, Brazil, South Africa and Middle East.
Usman argued that Indian cotton is good in quality, while it would be convenient for them to buy from India, as delivery time is short and price is feasible.
Textile mills have been long demanding restoration of cotton import from India, the worldâ€™s second biggest cotton producer, to meet shortfall in local production.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) also urged the government to immediately notify withdrawal of four percent customs duty and five percent sales tax and other non-tariff restrictions on import of cotton to enable the industry to meet its export commitments.
An Aptma official said that the government should remove phytosanitary restrictions. The official said that the government pledged to withdraw the import restrictions in the Prime Minister Trade Enhancement package in January. The department further said that an Indian consignment arrived without valid import permit and phytosanitary certificate would be destroyed or deported.
The department reserves the right, if considered necessary to cancel the import permit even after issuance on detection of bio-security pests/risks or any other violation of import conditions,â€ it said. The department further said non-commodity concerns must be assessed, including container cleanliness, packaging and destination concerns, and may be subject to inspection and treatment on arrival.
Ihsanul Haq, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Forum, however, said that the new conditions would not help in fully restoring cotton trade between the two countries.
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