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Spotlight | December 2015

Stable world cotton trade expected in 2015-16

World cotton imports are projected to remain unchanged at 7.6 mn t in 2015-16. While China is likely to remain the world’s largest importer in 2015-16, its imports are forecast to fall by 12 per cent to 1.6 mn t. This represents 30 per cent of its peak volume of imports in 2011-12. In 2015, the Chinese government restricted imports to the minimum volume required by the World Trade Organization to encourage mills to purchase domestic cotton. In July and August 2015, it sold nearly 60,000 t from its reserve, but still holds 11 mn t. Given the large volume of production and reserves, imports are likely to be restricted again in 2016. Meanwhile, imports by other countries are expected to grow 4 per cent to 5.8 mn t. Imports in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, the next three largest importing countries, are all projected to grow in 2015-16. Bangladesh imports are forecast to increase 1 per cent to 972,000 t while Vietnam’s imports are forecast up 2 per cent to 956,000 t. After decreasing in 2013-14, Indonesia’s imports recovered 13 per cent to 735,000 t in 2014-15, and are expected to increase 6 per cent to 7,82,000 t in 2015-16.

The US is forecasting to lead in export volume, although its exports are projected down 9 per cent to 2.2 mn t due to a smaller volume of production in 2015-16. After declining 48 per cent in 2014-15, India’s exports may recover 34 per cent to 1.2 mn t. Exports in the next three largest exporting countries are likely to decrease due to reductions in their exportable surplus. Brazil’s exports are forecast down 10 per cent to 766,000 t, Uzbekistan’s down 5 per cent to 5,65,000 t and Australia’s down 10 per cent to 467,000 t.

World cotton area is projected to fall 7 per cent to 31.1 million hectares in 2015-16 due to significantly lower cotton prices in 2014-15. As a result, world cotton production is expected to fall by 9 per cent to 23.8 mn t. India’s cotton area is estimated down 5 per cent to 11.6 million hectares, and production down 2 per cent to 6.4 mn t. China’s cotton production is set to decline by 16 per cent to 5.4 mn t due to a 12 per cent reduction in area and a 5 per cent decrease in the average yield as a result of unfavorable weather. After a 24 per cent expansion in 2014/15, cotton area in the United States has receded 13 per cent to 3.3 million hectares with production declining 11 per cent to 3.2 mn t. Pakistan’s production is projected down 11 per cent to 2.1 million.

World cotton consumption could grow 2 per cent in 2015-16 to 25 mn t with consumption growth remaining flat or slowing in many countries compared with last season. Consumption in China, the largest cotton consuming country, is expected to remain flat in 2015-16 at 7.7 mn t. India’s consumption growth is expected to slow to 3 per cent, reaching 5.6 mn t, while Pakistan’s consumption growth remains steady at 2 per cent, reaching 2.6 mn t.

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