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Global economic slowdown impacts 2008/09 cotton trade
Nov '08
World Agricultural Outlook Board approves cotton & wool yearbook – summary.

The global cotton outlook for 2008/09 (August/July marketing year) has changed considerably given the recent economic developments from around the world. Consumer demand for cotton products has slowed, impacting cotton mill use and trade for many countries.

World cotton mill use in 2008/09 is forecast at 119.3 million bales, 4.1 million (3 percent) below last season and the lowest since 2005/06. Global use peaked in 2006/07 at nearly 123.5 million bales.

Foreign cotton mill use is expected to decline 3 percent to 114.9 million bales in 2008/09, while U.S. mill use continues its trend lower.

Foreign cotton mill use rose nine consecutive seasons to a record of nearly 118.8 million bales in 2007/08. Among foreign mill users, the largest declines in 2008/09 are foreseen in China and Turkey (1 million bales lower in each), Pakistan (400,000 lower), and India (300,000 lower).

Despite the decline, however, China's mill use (51 million bales) will account for nearly 43 percent of world cotton mill use in 2008/09.

Global cotton production in 2008/09 is projected at 112.9 million bales, 6 percent below last season's output of 120.5 million bales but still the fifth largest cotton crop on record. Foreign cotton production in 2008/09 is estimated at 99.3 million bales, down from 2007/08's record but still the third largest crop. Production is mixed among the major foreign-producing countries this season.

China—the world's largest producing country—is forecast to harvest half a million bales less in 2008/09.

In contrast, India and Pakistan are expected to produce slightly larger crops in 2008/09. The United States accounts for most of the decline in 2008/09 world production, as the U.S. cotton crop is 30 percent (5.7 million bales) lower than a year earlier at 13.5 million bales.

Planted area was reduced 13 percent from 2007/08 due to higher net return expectations for competing crops relative to cotton. While U.S. cotton plantings were at their lowest since 1983/84, weather conditions were less favorable this season as the abandonment estimate rose to a 10-year high of 17.5 percent.

As a result, U.S. harvested area is estimated at only 7.8 million acres in 2008/09, the lowest in 25 years.

With foreign cotton mill use forecast to decrease significantly more than production, 2008/09 global trade in raw cotton is also expected to decline from last season as a result of the slowing global economy. World cotton trade is projected at 35.2 million bales this season, compared with 38.7 million bales in 2007/08. Foreign shipments are expected to decline 11 percent from 2007/08, while U.S. exports are forecast to decrease 5 percent.

World ending stocks for 2008/09 are forecast at 57.4 million bales, 4 million below last season and the lowest in five seasons. This season's reduction in stocks is attributable to the production decline, which more than offset the expected reduction in global cotton mill use.

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