Pakistan’s cotton import bill surges to $1.84bn

Pakistan spent $1.838 billion on cotton imports during nine months of the current fiscal year (9MFY21) which is a 46% increase from $1.258bn recorded last year.

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Pakistan’s cotton import bill in FY19 was $1.65bn and the 9MFY21 lint imports has crossed the FY20 total cotton import bill of $1.704bn of last year.

There has also been a massive decline in cotton production from over 14 million bales in 2012 to 5.6m bales this year which has made things difficult for the textile industry who were looking forward to improving their performance.

According to brokers, the importers have booked 7m bales to import for the season that will probably last till September.

Total exports during 9MFY21 rose by just $212m to $10.411bn compared to $10.269bn in the same period of FY20.

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Nasim Usman, Chairman of the Karachi Brokers Forum said that that data collected from private sector importers is estimated at around 7m bales. According to him, in the absence of local cotton stock, the total import by the end of the current fiscal may be around $2.5bn to $3bn.

Pakistan economy is primarily agricultural in character and cotton is the most significant industrial raw material that is produced by the country. However, lately Pakistan has slipped to being the fifth largest cotton producer in the world and the third largest cotton consumer. The country is unable to meet its cotton production targets and there is no one willing to take the blame.

Cotton production is a source of livelihood for 1.7 million farming families and acts as a raw material to the $12 billion export textile industry. Moreover, cotton picking is also the largest source of employment for the village women. It contributes 8.5 percent to Pakistan’s GDP and is therefore extremely crucial for the economy.

It is pertinent to note that despite the gradual decline in cotton production since the past few years, PCCC which was constituted to help with the development, improvement and marketing and manufacturing of cotton has done nothing to help. Through an extensive research and development program, this committee was supposed to help replace the archaic technology that was responsible for the low levels of cotton production. However, it has remained ineffective till now.

When compared to its neighbor India- Pakistan’s per acre yield is not even 25pc which is alarming.

However, china-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority chairman Asim Bajwa recently disclosed that Pakistan is making efforts to produce cotton in Balochistan with China’s support. The Chinese are interested in producing cotton in unused lands, he said.

The Punjab agriculture secretary also announced that cotton will be planted on 4 million acres in Sindh and till now sowing on 13pc area has been completed. He further said that the Punjab government was giving subsidy to farmers on cotton seed and fertilisers under its subsidy programme. The Punjab Seed Council has approved 15 new cotton varieties.