Textile millers prepare to source cotton to meet export orders
LAHORE: As a significant amount of Pakistan’s national cotton crop was devastated by floods, textile mills prepared to source silver fiber from around the world to maintain export momentum .
“As we are facing a shortage of cotton in the domestic market due to multiple factors including the devastating floods, we need to source cotton from around the world in order to meet export orders. Surplus cotton is available in many countries. In Africa, Tanzania is one of the leading producers of good quality fiber, so we are not only interested in imports, but also want to learn from their experience in producing quality fiber,” Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) told The News on Monday.
In order to explore cotton imports, an APTMA delegation led by Dr. Gohar Ejaz, his Patron-In-Chief and senior members Fawad Mukhtar and Anwaar Ghani left for Tanzania.
Pakistan has been hit by the worst flood in its history, affecting 33 million people and inflicting an estimated loss of over $10 billion in infrastructure damage. The floods destroyed the cotton crop over a fairly large area. Current estimates of cotton losses are 3.5 million bales, or 36% of the expected crop this year, worth $1.5 billion.
Pakistan needs to arrange this cotton at the lowest possible cost as a matter of urgency so that the sector can continue to meet export orders. Any delay or non-delivery of export orders would further worsen the balance of payments, which was already under extreme pressure. At the same time, the industry would lose hard-earned international customers, according to the textile body.
Returning to the dilemma of stagnating cotton production in the country, the APTMA President admitted to being wary of cotton research and development in the country. “Unfortunately, our institutions have not been able to contribute to the abundant production of quality cotton in the country. Although we spend billions of rupees every year, we have failed to develop high yielding and disease resistant varieties of cotton,” he said.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons for the cotton fiasco is the low allocation for research and development of new seeds, he said, adding that Pakistan must forge partnerships with major global tech giants in the field of agricultural R&D to introduce quality cotton seeds in the country. as many of the world’s leading cotton producers have done in the past. Over the past two decades, China, India, Australia, Uzbekistan and Somalia have introduced quality cottonseed through major developers. “In contrast, we have allowed the proliferation of seed companies involved in poor quality cotton seed under an unregulated marketing system. We need to pull our socks off and only allow seed companies that have the infrastructure, know-how and gene pool to develop top quality cottonseed,” he stressed. Previously, however, APTMA had not supported the idea of importing cotton from neighboring India. Participants in a meeting convened by the textile body discussed in detail the issue of Indian cotton imports and recalled that India had imposed a ban on Pakistani products worth 1.5 billion dollars against an export of Indian products to Pakistan worth 10 billion dollars.
Pakistan had waited four months for the Indian restrictions to be lifted and then had to impose a similar restriction on Indian products as a countermeasure until it was resolved on a bilateral basis.
The participants unanimously decided that no kind of trade should be allowed with India unless the import ban on Pakistani products is lifted. Pakistan’s unilateral lifting of the ban would hurt Pakistani producers, who were already suffering from the floods.
To solve the problem of the availability of raw materials for the export-oriented industry, it was proposed, as an alternative, that the duties and anti-dumping duties on imports of polyester fibers be reduced to zero for one year.