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Fiscal 2012 cotton exports forecast down, USDA
Sep '11
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade. Fiscal 2012 agricultural exports are projected at $137 billion, the same as the 2011 forecast. Cotton exports are forecast down on tighter U.S. exportable supplies and greater competition from foreign exporters.

Fiscal 2011 exports are the same as the May forecast at $137 million, with grain and feed exports down mostly due to lower corn volume, offset by higher livestock, poultry, and dairy products. The revised U.S. import bill for 2011 is $94.5 billion, a 20-percent jump from 2010.

Economic Outlook
View for 2012 World Growth Still Slow; Inflation to Moderate; Dollar Down Modestly
World economic growth is expected to be 3.5 percent in 2012, compared with 2.9 percent in 2011, with the world inflation rate and the dollar falling. Some Asian and Latin American central banks are likely to continue raising short-term interest rates and tightening credit into 2012, to control inflation and limit credit growth. In the developing world, despite tighter labor markets, overall inflation is expected to be lower in 2012 than in 2011.

The key risk to developing economies is that excessive increases in short-term interest rates in developing countries may curtail their GDP growth in late 2011 and into 2012. Inflation in the United States and the Eurozone is expected to be lower in 2012 compared with 2011, since unemployment rates and factory utilization reflect a large amount of economic slack. Recent debt related turmoil in world financial markets, as well as weaker than expected “real” factors, such as employment and GDP growth, have boosted the chances of a U.S. and/or European downturn. As a result, most private sector economists have lowered growth forecasts for developed economies for 2011 and 2012.

Despite slow growth, the outlook for agricultural trade is promising. The relatively stable Middle East and expectations of slower world growth have brought sharp reductions in energy prices. A weak dollar and low interest rates provide plentiful credit for U.S. exports in 2011 and 2012.

Export Products
Fiscal 2012 cotton exports are forecast at $6.6 billion, down $2.4 billion from the 2011 estimate. Export volume is forecast to drop to 2.7 million tons due to a much smaller domestic crop and larger supplies among foreign competitors. The U.S. share of world trade is also expected to fall. Unit values are expected to fall from last year's record, but remain above historical levels. The fiscal 2011 estimate for cotton is unchanged at $9 billion as rising export unit values offset lower volume.

Regional Exports
Outlook for 2012
Agricultural exports in 2012 are forecast to match 2011 at $137 billion. Asia is forecast the same, at $46.8 billion, as an increase in Japan offsets a decrease in China. The Western Hemisphere is forecast up as greater exports to Canada outweigh fewer to Brazil. The Middle East and North Africa are forecast down while more exports are expected to the EU. Exports to China are forecast at $19 billion in 2012, which is $500 million lower than the revised record forecast for 2011 and would place China even with Canada as the top U.S. market in 2012.

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