Pakistan Cabinet on Thursday rejected the country’s Economic Coordination Council’s (ECC) proposal to lift a nearly two-year old ban on sugar and cotton imports from India. Pakistan Finance Minister Hammad Azhar had on Wednesday announced the ECC, a top decision-making body, has allowed the private sector to import 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar as Islamabad tries to keep soaring domestic prices in check.
“If opening trade with some country lessens burden on the pocket of an ordinary person, there is no harm in it,” Azhar had said at a news conference in Islamabad. “The price of sugar in our neighbour India is quite a bit lower than Pakistan.”
Pakistan was one of the leading buyers of Indian cotton until 2019, when Islamabad banned imports of goods from India after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
India is the world’s biggest producer of cotton and the second biggest sugar producer. Exports to its neighbour will reduce surpluses that are weighing on its local markets, while it would have helped Pakistan to lower soaring sugar prices ahead of Ramadan.