The general outlook for cotton supply and use for 2012/13 is bleak: global cotton production and mill use are forecast at 25.9 million tons and 23.4 million tons respectively, resulting in an oversupply of 2.4 million tons.
Despite the sharp fall in cotton prices in 2011/12, global production is projected down by only 5% this season.
Cotton plantings did not drop much due to above-average prices at planting time, government policies and favorable weather in some major producing countries. Global cotton mill use could increase by 3% in 2012/13, boosted by lower cotton prices. However, global economic growth is expected to remain slow, affecting retail purchases of textile products. Global cotton mill use is also influenced by the weakening spinning sector in China. The high local cotton prices relative to the rest of the world have hurt the profitability of Chinese spinning mills.
A geographical shift in cotton mill use from China to other Asian countries is currently underway, but estimating its actual extent will take time due to the lag in publication of cotton consumption figures and difficulties in obtaining these data for some countries. Cotton yarn imports by China have increased significantly since the beginning of 2012. The Secretariat currently estimates that cotton mill use will increase in 2012/13 in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand amongst others.
After an unexpected jump in 2011/12, global cotton trade is expected to fall by 21% to 7.7 million tons this season due to lower Chinese demand. However, imports by the rest of the world could rebound by 18%.
Exports from most large exporting countries will decline, in particular in India due to increased domestic consumption.
Global stocks are expected to reach a record of 16.4 million tons in 2012/13, up by 17% from last season. In contrast to last season, most of the increase will take place outside of China.