Pakistan permits Indian cotton imports

Friday, 11 May 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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Islamabad: Pakistan has permitted the import of Indian cotton via the land route to meet a shortfall of three million bales the domestic textile industry faces.

Cotton imports from Uzbekistan, also via the land route, will be permitted at a later stage, Dawn reported Friday.

The economic coordination committee (ECC) of the cabinet, at a meeting here Thursday, decided that in the first phase, long staple cotton would be imported from India through rail and road via the Wagah border in Punjab to save on transportation costs.

The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the finance ministry's economic advisor, Ashfaque Hassan Khan, said the ECC instructed the ministry of food and agriculture to immediately provide quarantine facilities at Wagah to protect the domestic crop.

Similar quarantine facilities would also be set up at the Torkhum and Chaman border posts along the Afghan frontier to enable long staple cotton imports from Uzbekistan through the land route.

Previously, cotton imports would reach Karachi via Iranian's Bandar Abbas port and would be transported to upcountry destinations.

Pakistan imported 200,000 bales, 10 percent of its total cotton imports, from India in 2006. Pakistan requires about 16 million bales of cotton this year, while the domestic crop has been estimated at around 13 million bales.

The ECC also asked the textiles and food ministries to examine pros and cons of permitting imports of short-staple cotton in the light of its impact on local farmers.
Source: IANS
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