Egypt has imposed a temporary ban on cotton imports until the local crop has been sold, a financial newspaper reported Thursday, saying there were problems marketing the domestic harvest.
"This procedure will help solve the marketing problem for local cotton which is currently facing difficulties," Salah Moawad, head of the agricultural services sector at the Agriculture Ministry, told newspaper Al-Mal.
Trade and agriculture ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Marketing of the 2011/12 cotton crop is hampered by high price expectations from farmers and a lack of liquidity among traders, according to a US Department of Agriculture report.
Moawad said LE50 million ($8.4 million) had been allocated by the Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit to buy cotton from local cooperatives.
Farmers have been asking to sell their cotton at LE1,700 per qintar (160 Kg) while the price of imported cotton is around LE1,500 per qintar.
Egypt's local cotton production is estimated at 3.7 million qintars of which two million qintars will be exported, leaving 1.7 million qintars for the domestic market, which is not enough to meet local demand, according to Adel Ezzi, president of a committee on Egypt's domestic cotton trade.
"The delay of importing cotton is not expected to last until the end of the current season in August," he told Al-Mal.