KARACHI - The growth in textile exports is likely to sluggish further during FY09 amid decline in cotton production in rain-affected areas of Punjab and Sindh, The Nation learnt on Saturday. Agricultural experts are projecting the local cotton is likely to approximate 12.5 million bales for the current crop season (2007-08) which seems remain below official target of 14 million bales on the account of bug attack on crop harvestings yields. The textile industry including spinning, weaving and composite has been suffering substantially for the last few years owing to soaring cotton prices, power failure and shortages, rising interest rates, increase in cost of doing business and for a number of reasons but the suspension in the research and development fund and support facility has made industry vulnerable which ultimately will result into a sharp decline in textile exports. The cotton output went up to 13 million bales during 2006-07 out of which Punjab witnessed 10.50 million bales and Sindh achieved 2.40 million bales cotton crop production respectively during the period under review. The expected shortfall in global cotton production and India's ban on cotton exports is pushing local ginners to increase their focus on exports market but  it must be kept in view that apart from expected decline in global production, cotton prices in the local market are also under pressure. According to the FBS, the growth in textile export goods plunged by 24.4 percent to 905.9 million dollars during July 2008 from 930.3 million dollars in the corresponding period of last year. With soaring cotton prices, and rising energy cost, textile sector's performance has witnessed a drastic slump in FY08 as core profitability of listed sectors declined by a massive 77 percent during nine months (Jan-Mar) of FY08. The current surge in cotton prices is likely to add pressure on sector's margins and hence its profitability. However, steep rupee depreciation (12 percent against US$ since July 01, 2008) would inflate the top line of textile companies offering some respite from soaring cost pressures. Cotton prices in the country are currently hovering around record levels of Rs4, 100 per maund. Cotton prices in the country are currently hovering around record levels of Rs4, 100 per maund the recent hike in local cotton prices is not only led by expected shortage of cotton production across the globe but is also attributed to lower than expected cotton crop in the country this year. Pakistan is the third producer of cotton in the world. As per various estimate global cotton consumption in FY09 is expected to stand in the vicinity of 112mn bales (lowers by 6% versus last year). This expected decline is mainly driven by lower crop estimates form USA and China, which resulted in cotton price increase in international markets. The average price so far in FY09 according to 'Catlook A' Index is 78 cent pre pound up 14% versus same period last year.