World Cotton Trade to Drop 18 Percent in 2012/13
Rebound in cotton mill use expected.
July 5, 2012
After a 20% jump to 9.2 million tons in 2011/12, the volume of cotton traded internationally is expected to drop by 18% to 7.6 million tons in 2012/13, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
The leap in global cotton trade in 2011/12 does not reflect improved demand for cotton. In fact, global cotton mill use is estimated down by 7% to 22.7 million tons, the smallest in eight years. High and volatile prices and a slowing global economy drove demand for cotton yarn down. Increased cotton trade in 2011/12 is due to a near doubling of shipments to China to 5.1 million tons.
Chinese mills have turned to imports to compensate for the shortage of domestic cotton caused by the rebuilding of the national reserve. In addition, large quantities of cotton were imported by the Chinese government specifically to help rebuild that national reserve. In contrast, cotton deliveries to other countries than China have fallen by 18% in 2011/12.
A small rebound in global cotton mill use is projected in 2012/13, on the basis of lower prices and a more robust global economy. This improved demand will boost cotton imports, but not enough to offset the expected drop in demand by China, which now holds large stocks. Imports by China are projected to fall by almost half to 2.7 million tons in 2012/13, whereas imports by the rest of the world could rebound by 18% to 4.9 million tons.
Exports from the United States and Francophone Africa are expected to increase in 2012/13, due to increased production. However, most other large exporting countries will experience a decline in their shipments due to a smaller crop and increased competition for a reduced export pie.
Global 2012/13 cotton production is forecast at 24.9 million tons, down by 8% from this season: the decline in prices during 2011/12 has driven cotton plantings down this year in many countries. Global stocks are expected to expand by 10% in 2012/13 to 15.1 million tons. By the end of July 2013, global cotton stocks could represent 64% of global consumption, the highest stocks-to-use ratio since the mid-1980s. The projected accumulation of cotton stocks will weigh on international cotton prices in 2012/13.