* Insects found in Indian cotton consignments, Pakistan says
* Pakistan testing samples to check quality
* India's cotton exports to fall; Brazil, U.S could gain
By Syed Raza Hassan and Rajendra Jadhav
KARACHI/MUMBAI, Nov 30 Pakistan has suspended
cotton imports from its top supplier, India, saying shipments
failed to fulfil phyto-sanitary certification, threatening the
$822 million-a-year trade, government and industry officials
Traders say rising hostility between the neighbours might
have prompted Pakistan to restrict imports. The decision will
help other cotton suppliers such as Brazil and the United States
to increase exports to Pakistan.
"We had received some complaints regarding insects, pests,
in cotton consignments imported from India, so we have sent
samples for tests," Imran Shami, director general of Pakistan's
Plant Protection Department (DPP), told Reuters on Wednesday.
"If results show non-compliance of phyto-sanitary
requirements, we would have to stop the imports from India."
Pakistan had put on hold cotton consignments from India, he
said, adding that if tests confirmed the presence of pests,
"these consignments will go back or would have to be destroyed",
In 2015/16, Pakistan surpassed Bangladesh to become India's
biggest cotton buyer, accounting for 40 percent of exports.
"Officially there is nothing on the record, but on the
ground, there is an unannounced ban on cotton imports from
India," said Ihsan ul Haq, chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners
Indian exporters have signed contracts to export 350,000
bales to Pakistan since the start of the marketing year on Oct.1
and out of that nearly 300,000 bales for shipments in December
and January could get stuck, three exporters said.
"Out of the contracted quantity, a very small amount has
been dispatched so far as the season has just started," Cotton
Association of India President Dhiren Sheth told Reuters.
Supplies from the new season crop usually start rising from
November in India. But this year, supplies are negligible after
a government move to ban high-value currency notes prompted
farmers to postpone sales.
"Buyers and sellers are not cancelling contracts. They are
waiting for some positive response from the government," said
Chirag Patel, chief executive officer of Indian exporter Jaydeep
The nuclear-armed rivals have seen tension increase in the
past few months over the disputed region of Kashmir.
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.
"It will be big problem for us if Pakistan stops buying.
Other countries could not absorb the entire surplus," said an
exporter based in the western state of Gujarat.
Along with Pakistan, India mostly exports cotton to
Bangladesh, China, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Pakistan, the world's third-largest cotton consumer, has not
stopped imports from other countries, said Shami of the DPP.
But importers say buying the fibre from other suppliers like
the United States, Brazil and West Africa will prove costlier
and time consuming.
"From India, imports come across within 10 days and
sometimes within a week consignments used to cross the Wagha
border," said ul Haq, referring to the main border crossing near
the Pakistani city of Lahore.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editingh by Robert Birsel)