The mandatory requirement of performing fumigation of the cotton imported from the United States (US) has been relaxed.
The Ministry of Commerce has taken the decision according to the Imports and Exports (Control) Act 1950 and has recently issued a notification in this regard.
As per the notification, the fumigation requirement of imported cotton from the US can be relaxed at the port of entry here following arrival after showing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and boll weevil-free certificates of the US exporting authorities.
Cotton imported from the US required additional fumigation at the port of entry here as per the Plant Quarantine Rules 2018, according to which any cotton imported to Bangladesh must carry an SPS certificate from the competent authorities of the exporting country.
In July 2019, the Bangladesh Tariff Commission recommended the government not stop applying fumigation rules to avert any possible harmful impact of the infamous insect boll weevil on local crops.
According to officials concerned, the boll weevil remains alive for 11 months and can fly up to five miles. It is very harmful to crops like cotton and okra.
But local cotton importers and spinners have frequently urged the authorities concerned to exclude the age-old provision of performing fumigation here in importing raw cotton from the US to save time and money.
Bangladesh is the only country that imposes the fumigation requirement on the US cotton at the port of entry, they have added.
Since Bangladesh is one of the biggest importers of cotton, the US cotton exporters are focusing on the Bangladesh market. They have called for lifting the double fumigation rules on the import of the commodity by Bangladesh.
Besides, different high-level meetings between Bangladesh and the US as well as trade bodies also discussed lifting the fumigation requirement of the US cotton.
Bangladesh sources cotton mainly from Africa, India, CIS countries, and the US.
The country annually spends over $3.5-4.0 billion for importing around 8.0 million bales of cotton. It produces only 0.16 million bales of cotton yearly.