Global cotton production is expected to grow for the second consecutive season by 7 per cent to 24.6 million tons in 2017-18. This is due to the projected 7 per cent expansion of world cotton area, which is likely to increase to 31.8 million hectares. However, the cotton area would still remain below the previous ten-year average of 32.3 million hectares.
World cotton production has recovered in 2016-17 after declining by 19 per cent to 21.3 million tons in 2015-16, which was the lowest volume since 2002-03. This was a result of both a 9 per cent contraction in area due to low cotton prices and a 10 per cent fall in the world average yield.
In 2017-18, India will likely be the world’s largest producer for the third consecutive season with production growing by 6 per cent to 6.1 million tons, the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) said in its latest report: “An early and adequate monsoon, a higher minimum support price, and the prospect of better returns from cotton compared to competing crops have encouraged farmers in India to expand area by 8 per cent to 11.3 million hectares,” the report said.
In China, cotton area is expected to expand by 3 per cent to 3.2 million hectares due to high cotton prices and the new subsidy announced during the planting season. Assuming an average yield of 1,558 kg-ha, production could increase to 5 million tons, ICAC said.
Production in the US is forecast to increase by 12 per cent to 4.2 million tons, which is the largest volume since 2007-08. High prices, sufficient soil moisture in dryland areas and beneficial weather during planting is driving the increase in area and production, according to the report.
After two seasons of decline, cotton area in Pakistan is projected to grow by 8 per cent to 2.7 million hectares. Production could reach 2 million tons, assuming an average yield of 741 kg-ha, up by 11 per cent from 2016-17.
Meanwhile, based on expectations of growth in the global economy, world cotton consumption is expected to increase by 2 per cent to 24.7 million tons. China leads as the world’s largest consumer of cotton, though its mill use remains unchanged from 2016-17 at 7.7 million tons. High domestic and international cotton prices and constrained supply are likely to limit any growth. After a 3 per cent decline last season, India’s consumption is forecast to recover by 3 per cent to 5.3 million tons. Pakistan’s consumption is expected to increase by 3 per cent to 2.3 million tons. Mill use in Bangladesh and Vietnam is projected to rise by 5 per cent to 1.5 million tons and 7 per cent to 1.3 million tons, respectively.
In terms of exports, the US is expected to continue as the world’s largest exporter of cotton in 2017-18 despite a projected 7 per cent reduction in exports to 2.9 million tons. This is due largely to the fact that there will be a much larger supply of cotton from other countries on the global market compared to 2016-17. As a result, its share of world exports is expected to fall from 50 per cent in 2016-17 to 37 per cent in 2017-18. After declining by 28 per cent to 900,000 tons in 2016-17, exports from India are projected to rise by 2 per cent to 930,000 tons. While imports in China will likely be limited by quota, they are projected to increase by 1 per cent to 1.1 million tons. Imports by Bangladesh are expected to increase by 7 per cent to 1.5 million tons and Vietnam by 8 per cent to 1.3 million tons.
World ending stocks are forecast to decline by 1 per cent to 17.1 million tons in 2017-18. China’s stocks are expected to decline by 18 per cent to 7.6 million tons, and its share of world stocks is expected to decline to 44 per cent, which would be the first time since 2011-12 that it held less than half of global stocks. Stocks held outside of China are expected to rise by 17 per cent to 9.6 million tons. “This would be one of the highest volumes on record and indicates that prices should fall,” the report said.