A Cotton Council International (CCI)-sponsored Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture Delegation’s U.S. visit from Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2022, coupled with indispensable efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Dhaka,ultimately convinced the Bangladesh government to relax its nearly-five-decade-long fumigation requirement on U.S. cotton imports.
This shift will remove a significant export barrier for U.S. cotton to Bangladesh, as well as save Bangladeshi mills time and money as they look to the U.S. to fill their cotton fiber import needs. Bangladeshi mills have been paying over a million dollars annually to cover unnecessary fumigation costs imposed on cotton imported from the U.S.
U.S. exporters will continue to use APHIS-generated phytosanitary certificates, but under the new regulation, the certificate will have additional language confirming no live boll weevils are in U.S. baled cotton. APHIS will issue revised instructions for exporters.
Bangladesh’s Agricultural and Commerce Ministries’ decision to lift the fumigation requirements on U.S. cotton came after six Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture delegation members joined a CCI-sponsored U.S. cotton tour. Thanks to coordination with the National Cotton Council (NCC), the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture delegation conducted U.S. cotton meetings in Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas. They met with U.S. cotton industry representatives and visited cotton fields, gins and warehouses, and the USDA Agricultural Ginning Research Laboratory in Stoneville, Miss.
The delegation learned why U.S. cotton bales do not harbor live boll weevils, including a review of the U.S. cotton industry’s successful Boll Weevil Eradication Program and its modern cotton harvesting and standardized ginning techniques. Additional discussion topics included the phytosanitary inspection and certification process with APHIS during Zoom calls at the NCC headquarters in Cordova, Tenn., and during a meeting with the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Program in Harlingen, Texas.
In Mississippi, the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture delegation members met with Staplcotn—a U.S. cooperative and leading exporter of U.S. cotton to Bangladesh—and toured a gin and warehouse. U.S. cotton grower Sledge Taylor gave the group a tour of his family’s cotton farm and gin operations, as well as an overview of the sustainable cotton production practices U.S. cotton growers follow.
Bangladesh presently ranks as the No. 2 global importer of cotton, according to the USDA FAS’s global market analysis in May 2023. Although there is some domestic cotton produced in Bangladesh, it accounts for 1% or less of total demand.
Bangladesh was a Top 10 export market for U.S. cotton in 2022, with exports valued at $477.07 million (https://www.fas.usda.gov/regions/bangladesh).