The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has issued a warning that a delay in cotton imports can pose a risk to the timely delivery of export orders. Since 2.5 million bales are required immediately for the textile export industry, the PTEA has urged for the lifting of the import ban on Indian cotton.

The torrential rains and floods have engulfed the country’s cotton fields, resulting in serious losses for the sector. In Punjab, many cotton-producing areas have suffered heavy damage due to stormy rains. Cotton crop over 210,000 acres of land has been affected due to the floods. A huge shortfall in cotton production could be on the cards this year with half of the country’s crop being washed away.

The annual estimated consumption for the country is around 12 million bales, however production this year is expected to be around 5.5 million bales, resulting in a shortfall of at least 6 million bales. Therefore, importing raw cotton from other countries seems like the only feasible option at the moment. India is considered to be the best option as it is the second largest cotton producer after the US, and the cost will be far lower with transportation taking only a few days.

The PTEA is asking the government to review its policies in the wake of the current situation and allow import of Indian cotton for the export-oriented textile industry under the Duty and Tax Remission for Export (DTRE) scheme. Low cotton productivity and a ban on cross-border cotton imports is pushing up prices of cotton, so something must be done to arrest this trend. Of course, there are multiple considerations that come into play when considering imports from India, however the government must look to facilitate the textile sector as it is essential for our export industry. Any delay in remedial measures will hurt the industrialisation drive, halt export growth and lead to further unemployment.