LAHORE: Textile millers have called on the government to immediately withdraw restrictions on cotton imports as it will enable them to meet expectations of international buyers about quality products.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman Aamir Fayyaz emphasised that competitively priced raw material was the basic building block of the Prime Minister’s Export Package 2017.

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“The industry is badly in need of contamination-free fine and medium-staple cotton to produce goods meant for exports. Government should immediately announce withdrawal of 4% customs duty and 5% sales tax as per announcement made by the prime minister in the export-led growth package,” Fayyaz said.

He asked the government to scrap the non-tariff measures taken to restrict cotton imports from India and Brazil, which were restricted till May 20, 2017, as their cotton was being exported to all destinations without any curbs.

He put Pakistan’s cotton production at an estimated 12 million bales in the current season, adding the industry had so far purchased only around 40-50% of its requirement.

He claimed that persistently hot weather in October 2017 had badly affected the quality of cotton crop, which forced the textile value chain to look for quality cotton to meet its demand from international buyers.

Fayyaz pointed out that restrictions were imposed despite promises to the contrary under the Prime Minister’s Export Package to ensure a right price to cotton farmers. Now that over 70% of the crop was out of the hands of the farmers, the government must withdraw the duties immediately to help shield the international export orders, he suggested.

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“If this is not done swiftly, it is feared our textile producers, weighed down by unfair restrictions, will not be able to compete with regional competitors,” he remarked.

Fayyaz urged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Federal Textile Minister Pervaiz Malik to help the industry purchase raw material at competitive prices as future exports would heavily depend on producing quality products.

He noted that 30-35% of the textile capacity had already been impaired and continuity of restrictions would prove detrimental for the entire textile value chain.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2017.