The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Pakistan cabinet on Thursday approved import of cotton from Afghanistan and central Asian states via the land route to meet its shortfall in the key textile industry.
The ECC took the decision in line with a proposal submitted by the country’s ministry of commerce and textile during a meeting presided over by the Finance Minister Asad Umar. The meeting, however, allowed the import via Torkham border with the condition that imported cotton should meet the sanitary and phytosanitary regulations.
“ECC also directed the relevant ministries to engage with the industry for establishment of a permanent quarantine facility for cotton imported through land route,” the Pakistan finance ministry said in a statement.
Pakistan is a net cotton importer with the textile industry consuming 12 to 15 million bales per annum. The country imports cotton from various sources. Afghanistan and central Asian states are producers and exporters of cotton and they have reasonable share in Pakistan’s import mix as imports from these countries are cheap due to land route compared to the United States and other destinations.
Pakistani cotton is of short to medium staple length and therefore extra long staple cotton has to be imported for production of finer yarn counts. The commerce ministry said the cotton is a sensitive crop and attracts variety of pests. “For majority of cotton, Afghanistan is only a transit route and for that purpose pest scouting of central Asian states would also be required otherwise it would be great threat of new pests harming domestic cotton,” the ministry said in the proposal, citing the ministry of national food security and research.
Textile industry, however, said only American cotton is subject to quarantine process under the quarantine rules. “Therefore, such regulations are not applicable on Afghanistan and central Asian states cotton,” the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association was quoted in the proposal as saying. Food ministry said the origin of Afghanistan and central Asian states cotton is also American.
The ECC, in consideration of the proposal from ministry of industries and production, also approved a grant of Rs1.066 billion for payment of outstanding dues, including provident fund, gratuity and payroll dues, to families of deceased employees of Pakistan Steel Mills.
The meeting accorded approval for sale of 200,000 tons of wheat from the surplus stocks available with Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation to the Poultry Association of Pakistan.
Secretary Ministry of National Food Security of Pakistan shared with the meeting a report on value chain of sugar. The ECC took note of the issue of pending payments to sugarcane growers as well as difficulties faced by the millers in view of surplus stocks, possibility of their export and redressal of liquidity issues. The committee directed the minister of national food security and adviser industries to hold meeting with the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association and resolve the issues.
ECC also had deliberations on the proposed plan of ministry of energy for gas load management during winter season and decided to have further discussions in the matter at the next meeting to finalise the plan.