ISLAMABAD (APP) - Pakistans Ambassador to China Masood Khan on Saturday said Pakistan was expecting record cotton production of over 15 million bales in the 2011-12 crop year as farmers were sowing in a wider area after domestic prices doubled a year ago. In an interview with China Textile News, a Chinese language daily which focuses on textile related matters, the Ambassador said Pakistan achieved record cotton production of 14.6 million bales in 2004-05, but the output fell sharply after that until now. The ambassador said the government was targeting a sowing area of 8.5 million acres, up by 8 per cent from the last year, working out a plan to prevent pest and virus attacks, and ensuring seed availability. He said Pakistan was the fourth largest producer and third largest consumer of cotton. The textile sector contributed 60 per cent to the total earnings of the country, accounts for 46 per cent of the manufacturing and provides employment to 38 per cent of the manufacturing labour force. Cotton and textile account for about two-thirds of the countrys exports and they provide livelihood to more than 10 million families, he added. Ambassador Khan said increased cotton production was necessary to achieve 4.2 per cent growth rate target in the next financial year starting from July 2011. Our growth rate slipped to 2.4 per cent last year due to the huge losses suffered by our economy on account of massive floods. Gains in cotton can redeem the economy, he said. The good news is that Pakistans textile industry had made its mark in the global market in the past six decades; and it has proved its continued strength even in the post-quotas era. Remarkably, it has survived two serious challenges the international financial crisis and the devastating floods last year, he said. The Ambassador emphasized, in order to ensure robust growth of our textile industry, the government was paying attention to the development of support industries of machinery, dyes and chemical. Talking about Pakistan-China bilateral trade, Ambassador Masood Khan said it has seen positive trends on all fronts. Last year, for instance, the overall volume rose to $8.7 billion, registering a cumulative year-on-year growth of 28 percent. Pakistans exports increased by 37.44 percent. We want to move forward with speed and efficiency to achieve the overall target of $ 15 billion in the next three to four years. Secondly, we are taking measures to reduce the trade deficit of $ 5.2 billion in Chinas favour. For that purpose, we have invited official Chinese purchase missions to visit Pakistan and place orders for Pakistani products for Chinese market, he said. In 2009, he said, the global shortage of cotton caused by a shortfall in Chinese crops led to an exponential growth in the external demand for Pakistan cotton yarn. China itself procured huge quantities of yarn from Pakistan. This trend continued in 2010 though at a slightly lower pace. He said overall, textile related exports to China are 65 per cent of the total Pakistani exports to China. In 2010, for instance, Pakistan exported cotton yarn, fabrics, cotton, cotton wastes, home textiles, garments, knitted fabrics, and carpets to China in big quantity. He said agreements have been signed between Pakistani and Chinese institutions for development of hybrid cotton seeds, including of BT cotton, to improve the yield and quality of cotton in Pakistan. Ambassador Khan said next year, Pakistan is launching the next Five Year (2012-1216) Pak China Development Programme on Trade and Economic Cooperation (FYDP). This programme includes collaboration on an Institute of Textile and Clothing. Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan and China face similar challenges related to higher labour wages and procurement of raw material.