Pak cotton imports to touch near record-high levels
KARACHI—Cotton imports by Pakistan are expected to remain near record-high levels in the year to July 2017, as erratic weather forces farmers in the world’s fourth-biggest producer to trim area under the crop, industry officials said. A supply crunch in Pakistan, at a time when back-to-back droughts have taken a toll on output at top producer India, could boost global cotton prices from their current near 11-month highs. The two countries have already taken turns this year to buy from each other to fill shortages at home.
“Cotton area in Pakistan is down around 15 per cent. Despite the government and industry’s efforts, farmers in top-producing Punjab have reduced area,” said Saleem Saleh, acting secretary general of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma). Unpredictable weather, such as floods late last year as well as poor rainfall in recent months, and the resultant uncertainty about yields is putting many farmers off cotton, stymieing Pakistan’s efforts to boost local output. “Farmers are finding other crops profitable,” said Shahzad Ali Khan, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginner’s Association. The country’s cotton output fell by a third to 9.7 million bales in 2015/16, forcing it to import a record 4m bales in the year, up from 1.2m a year ago, according to Aptma. Pakistan annually consumes around 15m.—Reuters