The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cotton projections for 2016/17 indicate that global cotton trade is forecast similar to the previous two seasons.
World trade is projected at 35.3 million bales in 2016/17, marginally above 2015/16 and equal to 2014/15. However, global cotton trade remains well below 2012/13’s record of 46.4 million bales.
The steady but limited world trade is largely attributable to relatively low raw cotton import demand from China, as the government imposed tighter import controls in order to reduce domestic surpluses. More recently, mills in China have had access to cotton supplies from China’s national reserve, a situation that also limited raw cotton imports. Despite overall stable trade, major cotton exporters have experienced considerable annual variations.
Larger and higher quality crops in the U.S. and Australia in 2016/17 are expected to garner a larger share of the market than in 2015/16. In contrast, 2016/17 cotton shipments from India, Brazil and Uzbekistan are expected to decline due to lower supplies available for export.