Where has all the cotton gone?

World cotton consumption is slowing. The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), a Washington-based association of governments of cotton producers, consumers and traders, has revised global consumption numbers downward for 2015-16 to 24.4 million tons, up by less than one percent from that a year earlier.

Slowing consumption is expected to hit cotton imports, which are estimated to fall by three percent to 7.4 million tons in 2015-16. Chinese imports are expected to decline by 33 percent to 1.2 million tons. However, there are likely to be small exceptions—countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia are expected to increase imports. The ICAC said Asian imports except China are expected to reach 4.5 million tonnes or 60 percent of global imports.

China is likely to remain the world’s largest importer of cotton in 2015-16, according to the Committee, but its share of world imports has shrunk from 55 percent in 2011-12 to 22 percent in 2014-15 and will probably reach 17 percent in 2015-16.

In the US, lower harvested area and lower yields in 2015-16 are expected to depress production figures by about 18 percent to 2.9 million tons and in Brazil production is expected to slip by 6 percent to 1.5 million tons.

India is the world’s second largest producer and consumer of cotton. India’s production is expected to slip by four percent to 6.3 million tons due to pest problems and lower area of plantation. China’s production is expected to fall by 19 percent to 5.3 million tons.

The country, which is also the world’s second largest exporter of cotton, is likely to make a small recovery with 2015-16 exports forecast to increase 15 percent to 1.1 million tons.

                                                         WORLD COTTON SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION
2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
     Changes from previous month
                    Million Tons                      Million Tons
Production 26.27 26.18 23.11 -0.01 0.02 -0.81
Consumption 23.88 24.24 24.37 0.25 -0.24 -0.67
Imports 8.67 7.6 7.35 0.00 0.00 -0.12
Exports 8.99 7.71 7.35 0.00 0.00 -0.12
Ending Stocks 20.08 21.92 20.65 -0.21 0.06 -0.08

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