Pakistan is likely to allow cotton imports from India to meet the demand of key textile industry but with tough conditions for consignments from the neighbouring country.
"Pakistan is likely to start issuing permit for import of cotton from India through land route in a next few days under new tough conditions that may not fully ease already imposed restrictions on trade," The News International quoted an official as saying.
According to the report, Pakistan, which is the world's fourth largest cotton producing country, falls short of around four million bales a year to meet the local demand of nearly 16 million bales.
As per officials, a permit from the Department of Plant Protection of Pakistan's food ministry is mandatory, under the new phytosanitary conditions, for import of unprocessed cotton, including raw or seed cotton, from India.
The consignments would be inspected and tested by the National Plant Protection Organisation according to appropriate procedures and to ensure the goods are free from biosecurity pests.
Pakistan Government had suspended the import of cotton from India last year after its Department of Plant Protection had put forward some objections.
Earlier in the past, Pakistan used to import 0.5 to 2.8 million cotton bales from India.
Naseem Usman, chairman of Karachi Cotton Brokers Association is expecting an import of around 0.7 million bales from India this year.
Describing Indian cotton as good in quality, Usman said it would be convenient for them to buy cotton from India, as delivery time was short and price was feasible.
However, Ihsanul Haq, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Forum, said the new conditions would not help in fully restoring cotton trade between the two countries.
A senior textile ministry's official said tough conditions were indispensable to protect any threat to local cotton crop as imported seeds may contain diseases and also carry eggs of various insects and pests.
Textile mills in Pakistan have been long demanding restoration of cotton import from India, the world's second biggest cotton producer, to meet shortfall in local production.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) also urged the government to immediately notify withdrawal of four percent customs duty and five percent sales tax and other non-tariff restrictions on import of cotton to enable the industry to meet its export commitments.