ISLAMABAD-Pakistan needs to import at least 5 million bales of cotton during the current fiscal year to meet the demand of textile value-addition chain, All Pakistan Textile Mills Associations (APTMA) said.

“Pakistan imported 3 million cotton bales last year and needs to import at least 5 million bales during the current fiscal year due to damage to the crop by recent floods,” Shahid Sattar, Secretary General of APTMA, told WealthPK.

He said cotton is an important cash crop for Pakistan and a major raw material for its textile industry, representing 75% in the fibre mix of textile products. “Current estimates of losses to the cotton crop due to floods are 3.5 million bales, accounting for 36% of the expected yield this year,” Shahid said.

He added that the overall loss was valued at over $1 billion as per the value-addition price of cotton. He said that Pakistan was already facing shortage of cotton, and floods have caused more damages to the crop in the country. Shahid said the government should also help the textile sector in procuring extra amount of cotton from various countries so that Pakistan’s largest export industry can meet it requirements.

He said that a delegation of APTMA was currently visiting Tanzania to negotiate on the procurement of cotton to meet future requirements of the textile sector. The APTMA secretary general said that a delegation of International Cotton Association (ICA) recently visited Pakistan. The ICA has been requested to set up its office in Pakistan for better coordination and the training of local traders in the cotton business. “Pakistan is emerging as a cotton importing country, but the importers are not fully aware of the ICA rules and their rights as buyers,” Shahid pointed out.

On the other hand, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) and Pakistan Textile Council (PTC) have demanded that the government allow the import of raw cotton from India. “Importing cotton from India will be far cheaper, and it will take only a few days to reach Pakistan,” PTEA Chairman Sohail Pasha said in a statement. He said India is the second largest cotton producer after the US, and a best possible option for Pakistan to import raw cotton in the current situation.

The PTEA chairman urged the government to review its policies in the wake of the current situation, and allow import of Indian cotton for export-oriented textile industry under the Duty and Tax Remission for Export (DTRE) scheme. The PTC said in a statement that the country’s textile industry is facing shortage of raw material as flash floods have badly affected the cotton production. According to the PTC, the country will face huge loss in terms of cut in textile exports if timely decision for import of cotton is not taken.