control method on US cotton at its ports as the raw material is fumigated at warehouses prior to shipment, allowing the country to save on import costs and time, importers and suppliers said.
Fumigation of US cotton is both time-consuming and expensive. Last year, more than $1 million was spent at the Chattogram port, according to A Matin Chowdhury, managing director of Malek Spinning Mills, one of the major local importers.
“So far not a single case of insects arriving with imported US cotton was detected,” he told The Daily Star, while sharing the issue with a Cotton USA delegation at his Gazipur factory on Thursday. The delegation had sought to witness the production facility as Chowdhury is currently Bangladesh’s largest importer of US cotton. Currently, only US cotton undergoes the chemical therapy.
Dependence on the American fibre has been rising: it accounted for 11.14 percent of Bangladesh’s requirement last year, up from 4 percent two years ago.
Chowdhury shared his import figures involving the US: 1.20 lakh bales costing $35 million a year.
“I import almost all of my required cotton from the US because of its better quality and timely shipments and deliveries,” he said.
Chowdhury exports garment items worth $300 million, mainly to the US, by using the American cotton.
“Sometimes, I sell yarn and fabrics to local garment manufacturers and a majority of my materials are used in my own factories,” he said.
William R Bettendorf, director of supply chain marketing for South and Southeast Asia of the Cotton Council International and the Cotton USA, echoed Chowdhury.
“Fumigation of US cotton in Bangladeshi ports is a major non-tariff barrier in trade between Bangladesh and the US,” he said.
“We have already contacted different government bodies several times for the withdrawal of the system but still nothing happened,” he said.
Many teams have tested US cotton several times but found no harmful insect, Bettendorf said.
American farmers and traders use modern ginning techniques so that the cotton does not pick up any contaminant during shipment and use at mills, he said.
Usually cotton from other countries do not undergo the extermination process but get the same treatment if they happen to travel on the same ship carrying US cotton destined for Bangladesh, said Monsoor Ahmed, secretary of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
African nations have recently surpassed India to become the largest source of cotton for Bangladesh as local spinners and millers look to cut down dependence on this vital raw material on a single source.
Last year, Bangladesh, the world’s largest importer of cotton, met 37.06 percent of its requirement for the white fibre from imports from East and West African countries. India accounted for 26.12 percent of the total cotton imports, down from more than 60 percent two years ago, according to data from the BTMA, a platform of the primary textile sector.
Last year, 11.35 percent of the cotton came from the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, 4.65 percent from Australia, and 9.65 percent from the rest of the world. Bangladesh imported 8.28 million bales of cotton (one bale equals to 282 kilogrammes) last year. In dollar terms, it is worth $3 billion.