China's cotton imports are to extend their tumble for a
further two seasons as the world's top buyer runs down its huge inventories,
but purchases will stage a recovery, leading "rapid" growth in world trade.
Cotton imports by China, which is also the top grower and consumer
of the fibre, will drop 22% in 2014-15 to 8.6m tonnes, and again the following
season to 7.5m tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture said in long-term
The decline, prompted by a change in Chinese farm support
expected to end the country's record of stockpiling cotton at prices well above
international market rates, will drag world trade lower next season.
"Contraction is expected in the short turn as China halts
and then reverses its accumulation of stocks," the USDA said in its so-called
At their nadir, China's imports will have plunged nearly 70%
from their 2011-12 peak.
'Rapid growth rate'
However, volumes will stage a sharp recovery from 2017-18, as
the lower domestic values enabled by China's ditching of its price support
programme boosts fuels higher demand from mills.
The fall and revival in Chinese cotton imports, as seen by the USDA
2017-18: 9.2m tonnes
2016-17: 7.6m tonnes
2015-16: 7.5m tonnes
2014-15: 8.6m tonnes
2013-14: 11.0m tonnes
2012-13: 20.327m tonnes
2011-12: 24.533m tonnes
"China's reforms are expected to allow it to recover part of
the share of world cotton consumption lost between 2009 and 2013, when some of
China's textile production and cotton imports shifted to other countries,"
because of the elevated costs of the fibre encouraged by the price support
The revival will take China's imports above 21m tonnes in a
decade's time, and fuel growth in world cotton trade, which "is projected to
trend upward at a rapid 3.8% growth rate between 2014-15 and 2023-24", the USDA
Bangladesh, which has benefited from a shift by Chinese
textiles groups to cheaper yarn importers, will also raise its imports strongly,
overtaking Turkey to become the second-ranked buyer, with similar dynamics
lifting Vietnam to third place.
'US share has fallen
However, the US, the top cotton exporter, will see its share
of trade fall as rival producing countries raise output, catching up on yields
through adopting more genetically modified crops.
"The US share of world cotton production has fallen sharply
with the spread of new technology around the world in recent years, and its
share is expected to continue falling in the long run, although far more slowly,"
the USDA said.
Furthermore, a rise in sowings of upland cotton this year,
by 900,000 acres to 11.0m acres, will likely buck a trend of plantings stable
at about 10.0m acres.
This year rise is thanks to "prices for competing crops falling
more" than cotton values.
The sowings estimate compares closely with a forecast from
the National Cotton Council at the weekend that US farmers will plant 11.04m
acres of upland cotton this year, encouraged by pricing signals, with a further
225,000 acres of extra-long staple crop.
However, the USDA baseline report has a mixed record with
its cotton sowings forecasts. Last year, plantings beat the forecast 9.3m acres
by close to 1m acres.