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Pakistan Cabinet rejects proposal to import cotton and sugar from India

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Islamabad, Apr 01: Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan's federal cabinet rejected an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) proposal to import cotton and sugar from India, reported local media on Thursday. The rejection comes a day after the top economic body gave a go ahead to the import of cotton, cotton yarn and sugar from the neighbouring country.

Imran Khan

A proposal of the ECC to import cotton yarn and sugar from India was rejected by the cabinet on Thursday, according to a news report by Pakistan's Geo News that quoted its sources.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said on Twitter that only after the cabinet's approval will the decision be considered "approved by the government".

"Just for the record - All ECC decisions have to be approved by cabinet & only then they can be seen as 'approved by govt'! So today in the cabinet there will be a discussion on ECC decisions including trade with India and then the government decision will be taken! The media should be aware of this at least!" Mazari wrote in a tweet.

The U-turn comes a day after Finance Minister Hammad Azhar announced on Wednesday that Pakistan will buy sugar and cotton from India, lifting a ban on their import from the neighbouring country imposed in the wake of heightened tension over Kashmir in 2019.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), which was chaired by Azhar.

Azhar said that the meeting discussed 21 items on the agenda, including import of cotton and sugar from India, which it allowed after detailed discussions.

The resumption of import of these goods would have led to partial revival of bilateral trade relations, which were suspended after the August 5, 2019 decision of India to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The private sector was allowed to import 5 lakh tonnes of white sugar from India, he said.

He also said that the government had allowed sugar to be imported from other countries, however, the price of the commodity in other countries was also high.

"However, in our neighbouring country India, the price of sugar is quite cheap," he said, reported PTI on Wednesday.

He said the government estimated a difference of 15-20 per cent in sugar prices in India as compared to Pakistan.

Talking about the reason for allowing the import of cotton from India, Azhar said that there was a high demand for it because Pakistan's textile exports had increased but last year's cotton crop was not good.

Azhar also said that Pakistan will import cotton from India starting June this year.

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