Govt to roll back ban on cotton exports

New Delhi: The government has decided to lift the ban on cotton exports, that was imposed last week, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said today.

"Keeping in view the facts, the interests of the farmers, interest of the industry, trade, a balanced view has been considered by the Group of Ministers (GoM) to roll back the ban," he said, while adding that "a formal order to lift the ban will be issued tomorrow".

The decision was taken by the GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which met on last Friday, after a directive from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "urgently" review the decision.

On March 5, the Commerce Ministry had imposed the ban on cotton exports, which had come under fire from various states, including Gujarat, and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Objecting to the ban, Pawar had said, "They (Commerce and Textiles ministries) kept me in the dark. I came to know about this only after a notification was issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)."

Early last week, the Textile Ministry had said the ban was imposed after taking into account "the trend of domestic consumption and depletion of domestic availability".

It had pointed out that the country had already shipped 10 lakh bales more than the exportable surplus, reducing the domestic availability. "Almost 94 lakh bales (170 kg each) have already shipped out, against an estimated export surplus of 84 lakh bales," the ministry had said. It feared the exports could reach 100 lakh bales by mid-March with registration of export contracts touching 120 lakh bales so far.

India is the second largest cotton exporter and Maharashtra and Gujarat are the biggest producers of cotton. 340 lakh bales of cotton production is estimated during the current season. Meanwhile, a delegation of Gujarat cotton farmers also met Sharma today, demanding lifting of the ban.