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Chinese cotton imports touch record levels this season
May '12
Global cotton trade is expected to rise by 13% to 8.6 million tons in 2011/12, driven by record imports from China. Imports by the rest of the world are projected to fall by 18% to 4.2 million tons. China will account for 52% of global imports this season.

The surge in Chinese imports has reduced the amount of cotton available in the rest of the world this season. US exports are dropping by 21% to 2.5 million tons due to reduced supplies, but shipments from India, Brazil and Australia could reach record levels.

As a result, while stocks in China are expected to more than double to 5 million tons in 2011/12, stocks in the rest of the world will increase at a more moderate rate of 14% to 8.1 million tons.

Cotton plantings for 2012/13 are now progressing in the northern hemisphere. World cotton area is expected to decrease by 7% to 33.6 million hectares in response to lower prices, improving attractiveness of grains and soybeans, and rising agricultural production costs. Based on average yields, world production could decline by 7% to 25.2 million tons.

The decline in production will be driven by China, expected to produce a crop of 6.4 million tons or 13% lower than in 2011/12. Production is also expected to decline in India, Pakistan, Brazil and Turkey.

U.S. production could rise by 11% to 3.8 million tons despite reduced plantings, assuming improved weather and lower abandonment than in 2011/12.

After two seasons of decline, global cotton mill use is projected to increase by 4% to 24.1 million tons in 2012/13, driven by improving economic growth and lower cotton prices. With global production exceeding global consumption again, global stocks are expected to continue increasing by 9% to 14.3 million tons, or 59% of world mill use.

The projected accumulation of cotton stocks will weigh on international cotton prices in 2012/13, but the extent of this downward pressure will depend in large part on how the Chinese national reserve is handled.

International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)

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