India to review cotton export ban

A worker sorts cotton in Gujarat in December 2011 India is the world's second-largest producer and exporter of cotton, behind China

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Indian PM Manmohan Singh has ordered a review of the ban on exports of cotton amid concerns over the decision.

India banned cotton exports on Monday to ensure supplies for domestic mills amid a jump in overseas sales.

Disease has damaged crops in several states, cutting yields, and exports have been higher-than-expected because of strong demand from China, which takes about 80% of Indian production.

India is the world's second-largest producer and exporter of cotton.

Indian textile makers have been concerned about shortages and high prices.

Farm minister Sharad Pawar has already written to the prime minister seeking to lift the ban "as our production is higher this year and farmers are complaining of falling prices".

The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, has also written to Mr Singh asking why the decision was taken without consulting "affected" states. Gujarat is one of the leading producers of cotton.

Now Mr Singh has directed his ministers to review the decision at a meeting on Friday. according to a statement issued by his office.

India has already exported 8.5m bales of 170kg (375 lbs) in the financial year ending on 31 March, reports say, up from a government estimate of 8.4m bales made in January.

Contracts had been signed for nearly 10m bales to be exported in the period, including those already shipped, Reuters news agency said.

International cotton prices have risen since the export ban was announced.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday directed a review of the Commerce Ministry's decision to ban cotton exports from Friday.

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