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MUMBA: Indian traders and spinning mills should first meet demand from the local textile industry and only then export surplus raw cotton and yarn, Textile Minister Piyush Goyal told industry officials in a meeting.

The minister’s comments came after textile mills in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a leading exporter of garments, went on a two-day strike earlier this week demanding a ban on exports.

US cotton futures prices jumped to an 11-year high earlier this month, and Indian cotton and yarn prices soon followed.

“The spinning and trading community (should) ensure hassle free supply of cotton and yarn first to the domestic industry and only surplus cotton and yarn should be diverted for exports,” Goyal said.

Exports should not be at the cost of domestic textile industry, the largest employment generator in the country, he said.

India is the world’s largest producer of cotton, with Bangaldesh, Vietnam and China its biggest buyers.

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