December 8, 2016 / 1:25 PM / a year ago

Pakistan resumes cotton imports from India - government official

KARACHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Pakistan has resumed cotton imports from its top supplier India after suspending them for few days, government and industry officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Workers wait to weigh the sacks filled with cotton next to a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

The resumption in the cotton trade will help India in exporting surplus, while Pakistan will benefit from cheaper supplies from the neighbouring country.

Last month Pakistan suspended cotton imports from India, saying shipments failed to fulfil phyto-sanitary certification, threatening the $822 million-a-year trade.

“Our move was portrayed as if we had banned imports,” Imran Shami, director general of Pakistan’s Plant Protection Department (DPP) told Reuters, so we have started re-issuing permits, he added. Authorities are still working on the certification issue.

Indian traders have signed contracts to export 350,000 bales to Pakistan since the start of the marketing year on Oct.1. Out of that nearly 300,000 bales for shipments in December and January were stuck after Pakistan suspended imports.

“Since Pakistan has started issuing import permits, we are hopeful that buyers will fulfil the contracts,” said an exporter based in the western state of Gujarat.

In 2015/16, Pakistan surpassed Bangladesh to become India’s biggest cotton buyer, accounting for 40 percent of exports.

“Pakistan still needs to import at least 2 to 2.5 million bales. Resumption in trading will help both the countries,” said Chirag Patel, chief executive officer of Indian exporter Jaydeep Cotton Fibers.

Pakistan’s cotton consumption is pegged around 15 million bales, while it is likely to produce around 10.5 million bales, Patel said.

Last year, Pakistan bought 2.7 million bales from India and supported Indian cotton prices at a time when China was cutting imports, traders said.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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