India, on March 11, decided to lift the ban on cotton exports following wide-spread opposition to the move.
Commerce and Industry minister Anand Sharma announced the decision to allow overseas sales. India is the world's second largest producer of cotton. "Keeping in view the interests of farmers, traders and industrialists, a balanced view had been taken to roll back the ban on cotton exports," said Sharma.
On March 9, the government had made an exception to the export ban, stating that consignments for which paperwork has been finished before March 4 can be exported.
The government had banned exports of the fibre on March 5 fearing a fall in availability in view of rising consumption at home. According to the ministry, higher exports than anticipated in cotton season 2010-11 reduced the expected carryover of stock for the current cotton season 2011-12, from 48.30 lakh bales estimated by the Cotton Advisory Board to about 33 lakh bales.
At the same time production this season was virtually the same as last year's, and total supply marginally lower. "Availability has reduced to less than the production levels of 2009-10, and also reduced the carry forward figure below the advisable inventory level," the ministry said in a statement. "Almost 94 lakh bales have already been shipped out, against an estimated export surplus of 84 lakh bales," it added.
The ban had evoked criticism not only from the farmer and trader community but also from the Chinese cotton industry.