Bangladesh is the largest importer of cotton in the world. The US$8 billion primary textile sector is moving away from importing Indian cotton. Last year, 41% of imported cotton came from East and West African countries.
The African cotton is better in quality and maintains their commitment by sending timely shipment and most importantly it is better in quality – contains less moisture and trash, say local experts.
Once India was the main sourcing hub for Bangladesh’s textile millers. In 2019 millers only imported 18% of cotton from India. Which was 26% in 2018, according to data from the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
Bangladeshi spinners and importers have been diversifying sourcing – and cutting reliance on India due to a price advantage and quality shipment.
“Quality shipment means quality, timely shipment and commitment,” said Mehdi Ali, President of the Bangladesh Cotton Association, adding that contamination is a big problem in Indian cotton.
“The low quality of Indian cotton is the main reason behind the falling imports from the neighboring country. The concentration of moisture in Indian cotton is higher and this makes it difficult to store them in the warehouses for a long time,” said Monsoor Ahmed, Secretary of the BTMA.
“The low quality of Indian cotton is the main reason behind the falling imports from the neighboring country. The concentration of moisture in Indian cotton is higher and this makes it difficult to store them in the warehouses for a long time.”
section of Indian cotton traders also does not maintain timely shipment and deliver the right quantity as per agreements, he said.
For example, it is written in the LC that there maybe 3% to 4% less cotton than the amount agreed upon when the imported fiber is weighed in Bangladesh. But in many cases, it is 10 to 15 percent less. As a result, the primary textile sector in Bangladesh has suffered a lot. This type of uncertainties arose several times in the past, Monsoor Ahmed added.
“So, the local importers are not depending on too much on a single country. Rather, they have diversified sourcing destinations in the last few years,” Ahmed concluded.
Razeeb Haider, Managing Director of Outpace Spinning Mills in Shreepur said, “The cotton prices of India are almost the same relative to other countries, the importers are looking for sellers in Western and Eastern African countries.”
“This is because the spinners and importers are getting better quality cotton at the same prices,” Razeeb Haider added.
Last year, more than 12% of the cotton came from the Commonwealth of Independent States countries, nearly 12% from the US, 5% from Australia and 10% from the rest of the world. Simultaneously, Brazil, the US and Australia are progressively becoming popular sources for local cotton importers and spinners, too.
Bangladesh produces 1.65 lakh bales to 1.70 lakh bales of cotton a year, which is less than 3% of the annual demand for 10 million bales.