Ties on the mend: Pak likely to import cotton from India

By Hamza Ameer

Islamabad, March 3 : It seems that the halted trade ties between India and Pakistan are on the verge of gradual restoration with Pakistan likely to import cotton from India.

After the announcement of a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) to maintain peace at the border between India and Pakistan, the Pakistan government may also be allowing imports of cotton from India in the coming days.

The breakthrough in the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the LoC has provided an opportunity to the commerce ministry to revisit the decision and as per details shared by the Pakistan government sources, Islamabad may be importing cotton from India.

“The advisor may take a decision on whether to import cotton and yarn from India next week,” confirmed an official from the federal ministry of commerce.

“Once the principal decision is taken, a formal summary will be presented before the Economic Committee of the cabinet,” the official added.

Sources also confirmed that deliberations over the restoration of cotton and yarn import in the first phase from India are already underway. However, decision would be taken after Prime Minister Imran Khan gives approval on the summary, as he also holds the portfolio of the commerce minister.

This will be a major development since Pakistan had severed trade ties with India in protest against Modi government’s decision to change the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, abrogating Article 370 and 35A. Pakistan maintains that any unilateral decision to change the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir is illegal and in violation of the UN resolution.

Pakistan was quick to respond with sending back the sitting Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad along with cutting all trade and diplomatic ties with India.

However, with Pakistan suffering to the shortfall of cotton and yarn, imports from India are to be restored.

There is at minimum shortfall of six million bales and the country has so for imported roughly 688,305 metric tons of cotton and yarn, costing $1.1 billion, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. There is still a gap of about 3.5 million bales that needs to be filled through imports.

On the other hand, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has been pressuring the government not to allow cotton and yarn import from India. Sources revealed that many of the millers have already hoarded the cotton and were now charging higher rates. Imports would dampen their short-term earnings.

“The cotton sowing season is currently starting in Pakistan and the predicted drop in cotton price owing to import of yarn from India is approximately 10-15%, discouraging farmers not to sow cotton,” according to the APTMA.