The ban on cotton exports will continue for now as the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) failed to arrive at any consensus.
The Textiles Secretary, Ms Kiran Dhingra, said: “The meeting was inconclusive.
Further discussions will be needed.
The next meeting will be held as early as possible.” However, sources said that further discussions on the issue were likely to be held on Saturday.
The Commerce Ministry had banned cotton exports on March 5, apprehending a shortfall in domestic supplies.
The move to curb exports had evoked sharp criticism from various quarters including the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar.
The Minister complained that “he was kept in the dark” and wanted the ban lifted.
Following the protests, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had directed the EGoM consisting of Finance, Agriculture and Commerce Ministers to “urgently review the decision on Friday.”
Earlier in the day, the Commerce Ministry issued a clarification on the ban, stating that consignments for which the export orders were issued till March 4 will not be affected by the move.
Registrations for cotton exports had touched 12 million bales (mb) by March 4.
The Textiles Ministry, which has been monitoring the cotton output, had said that exports had touched 9.1 mb by February-end against the estimated surplus of 8.4 mb. This had would have reduced the carryover stocks to 3.3 mb for the next season.
The Ministry expected exports to reach 10 mb by mid-March and had said that the decision to ban exports took into account the trend of domestic consumption and depletion of domestic availability.
Earlier in the day, the Commerce Secretary, Mr Rahul Khullar, said that the highest-ever cotton exports were 8.8 mb in 2007-08. He said that the shipments of the commodity were 3.5 mb in 2008-09 and had increased to 6.8-7 mb in 2009-10 and further to 7.8 mb in 2010-11.
However, Mr Khullar said that 9.5 mb of the natural fibre had already been shipped out during the current season till March 5, when the ban was imposed.