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Cotton prices soar as stocks continue slide in 2009/10

Mar '10
USDA releases the latest report on cotton production and prices. World cotton production in 2009/10 is estimated to decline 5 percent from the previous year to 102.2 million bales. Although production increases in 2009/10 are expected in some major cotton-producing countries, such as India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Australia, production declines in other countries are expected to more than offset the gains.

In 2009/10, China's cotton production is estimated to decline 14 percent from the previous year to 31.5 million bales. In that same period, Uzbekistan is expected to reduce production 11 percent to 4.1 million bales, while the United States' crop is estimated to have declined 3 percent from a year earlier. The reduction in 2009/10 global cotton production is driven in large part by the 2008 financial crisis and rising production costs that reduced area devoted to cotton.

World cotton area in 2009/10 is estimated at 30.4 million hectares, down 1 percent from the previous year and the lowest area in more than two decades. With the exception of India, most major cotton-producing countries, such as China, Brazil, and Uzbekistan, have decreased area in 2009/10. The African Franc Zone is also expected to reduce area 8 percent to 1.4 million hectares in 2009/10. Global yields are estimated at 733 kg/ha, down 4 percent from 2008/09.

World cotton imports in 2009/10 are estimated at 34.4 million bales, up 15 percent (4.4 million bales) from a year earlier. Significant rebounds are expected in major cotton importing countries, such as China, Pakistan, and Turkey. China is expected to increase its 2009/10 imports 36 percent to 9.5 million bales from the previous year. If realized, China's expected imports are a further sign that the impact of the 2008 financial crisis has significantly diminished. Pakistan is expected to import 2.5 million bales, up 28 percent from the previous year. Turkey's 2009/10 imports are forecast at 3.5 million bales, up 21 percent from a year ago. Increases in trade are also expected in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Mexico, where cotton imports are estimated to rise—respectively—5 percent to 4 million bales, 4 percent to 2.1 million bales, and 14 percent to 1.5 million bales from the previous year.

While exports in the United States and Brazil are estimated to decline 10 percent and 27 percent to 12 million bales and 2 million bales, respectively, increases are expected for some other major cotton exporting countries. India is expected to increase its 2009/10 exports by nearly threefold to 6.1 million bales from the previous year. Australia's exports are estimated at 1.8 million bales, up 50 percent from the previous year. Uzbekistan and the African Franc Zone are expected to increase 2009/10 exports by 30 percent and 3 percent, to 3.9 million bales and 2.3 million bales, respectively, from a year earlier.

Global cotton consumption in 2009/10 is estimated at 115.7 million bales, up 5 percent from the previous year as the global economic outlook brightens for 2010. A significant mill use increase is forecast for China, where consumption is expected to rise 8 percent from the previous year to 47.5 million bales. India is expected to consume 19.2 million bales, up 7 percent from a year earlier and the highest annual consumption on record. Cotton mill use is also expected to rise 2 percent to 11.8 million bales in Pakistan. Turkey is expected to consume 5.3 million bales in 2009/10, a 6-percent increase from a year ago. Meanwhile, 2009/10 U.S. consumption is estimated to decline 2.5 percent to 3.5 million bales.

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