India reverses cotton export ban after farmer outrage

Cotton sorting
Image caption India is the world's second biggest producer of cotton

India has reversed a ban on cotton exports, less than a week after imposing it.

There was an angry reaction from farmers when the government announced the policy last Monday.

The government justified the ban by saying that India needed to protect supplies for its own cotton mills.

But farming groups were outraged and China, which is the world's biggest cotton buyer, said the ban was "irresponsible".

Trade Minister, Anand Sharma, announced Sunday's change, saying a formal order would be made on Monday.

Reacting to the news, Nayan Mirani, vice-president of the Cotton Association of India which represents exporters and traders, said: "We must realise that we are a cotton surplus country and our surplus needs to be exported. These are short-sighted views that [the textile] industry sometimes takes by asking to ban cotton exports."

India is the world's second biggest producer of cotton and its exporters had outstanding orders for 2.5m bales of cotton when the ban, which took immediate effect, was imposed.

Exports had been running well above government targets and, at the time, officials at the textile ministry said the ban was needed due to "the trend of domestic consumption and depletion of domestic availability".

Cotton prices jumped 5% on New York's commodity market after the ban was announced but fell back later in the week.

The reversal of the ban is the latest policy mishap for the government. Last December a major reform of the retail industry was abandoned due to public opposition.

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