Bangladesh government has lifted fumigation requirements on cotton imported from the United States (US), but import of American cotton must be treated as fumigation as before.
According to Plant Quarantine Rules-2018 amended by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) on Tuesday and the gazette notification published on Wednesday, the obligation to fumigate US cotton has been lifted.
The notification said the consignment of US cotton shall be released at Bangladesh ports subject to declaration that it is free from cotton boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) in the phytosanitary certificate from Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on each and every consignment and no fumigation is required in this regard.
Samples of American cotton and US cotton imported by air, ship, post office or courier service, not exceeding 10 kilograms, shall be handed over to Plant Quarantine Office by the authority concerned for examination.
In case of American cotton, it shall be fumigated, but fumigation is not required for US cotton before release subject to declaration that it is free from cotton boll weevil in the phytosanitary certificate from APHIS.
Besides, in the case of American cotton import, it shall be treated with the consent of the plant quarantine officer of the port authority and by means of fumigation within the designated area.
American cotton is produced in North, South and Central America and adjacent islands, excluding the United States of America while US cotton is produced only in the United States of America.
The US trade delegation held a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akhter on Sunday at the secretariat. In the meeting, the agriculture secretary said that in the case of raw cotton import from the United States, there will be no need for fumigation in the country.
She said that in the case of cotton import from the United States until now, it had to be freed from insects after reaching the country, and a release permit had to be obtained from the port. The United States deworms cotton before exporting it. It was fumigated again in the country.
She also said that traders, including those of the United States, have long been demanding an end to double fumigation.
In this context, an expert team from Bangladesh has recently visited the United States and expressed satisfaction with the method of deworming raw cotton. Besides, this decision has been taken after the inter-ministerial meeting including the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, she added.
Insiders said the shift will remove a key barrier to export of US cotton to Bangladesh, as well as save Bangladeshi mills time and money as they look to the US to meet their needs of cotton fibre import.
Bangladeshi mills have been paying over a million dollars annually to cover unnecessary fumigation costs imposed on cotton imported from the US, they said.
US exporters will continue to use APHIS-generated phytosanitary certificates, but under the new regulation, the certificate will have to confirm that no live boll weevils are in US baled cotton. APHIS will issue revised instructions for exporters.
At present, Bangladesh ranks as the second largest global importer of cotton, according to the USDA FAS’s global market analysis in May 2023. Although some cotton is produced in Bangladesh, it accounts for 1 per cent or less of the total demand.
Bangladesh was one of the top 10 cotton importing countries from US in 2022, with imports of cotton valued at $477.07 million.
According to the Cotton Development Board of Bangladesh, the annual demand for cotton in the country is 85 lakh bales. About 2 lakh bales are produced in the country. And 7.50 lakh bales of cotton are imported annually from the United States.
According to the agriculture ministry, due to the presence of harmful ‘cotton weevil’ in raw cotton of North, Central and South America, there was an obligation to de-insect or fumigate the import of raw cotton from those countries after reaching Bangladesh.
There is no obligation to import cotton from Europe, Africa and other countries. Henceforth, it will not be required for import of raw cotton from USA. A US phytosanitary certificate or pathogen-free certificate is required.
However, fumigation obligations remain as before for cotton in the rest of Americas. If cotton shipments from the United States and other countries in North, Central and South America are in the same container, fumigation of the United States cotton is also mandatory.