This season, the world cotton trade is expected to reach its lowest level since 2010-2011, with China likely to have less demand for imports of the commodity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Trade is predicted to reach only 36.3 million bales in 2014-2015, 10% below the level of exports last season.
U.S. cotton exports are expected to decline 7%, to 9.7 million bales in 2014-2015. In a sign that demand for apparel made from cotton could be decreasing, that level of cotton exports would represent the lowest cotton trade figure in the U.S. in 14 years. Exports from India and Australia are also projected to decline considerably from last year, as exportable supplies in those countries appear limited. India alone is likely to export just 5.7 million bales in 2014-2015, down 35% from the previous year. Australian exports are predicted to drop 30%, or 3.2 million bales.
In China, cotton imports are expected to fall by one-third, with its government poised to restrict imports in favor of using domestically grown cotton. That would usher in the third straight season of declines, after China reached a record high for cotton imports – 24.5 million bales – in 2011-2012. Smaller import declines are also expected in Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries.
With global cotton production expected to exceed consumption for the fifth consecutive season in 2014-2015, world cotton stocks are estimated to rise to a new record, reaching 101.7 million bales by the end of next July. China will continue to hold the bulk of the supply, with ending stocks there projected to reach 60.5 million bales, or nearly 60% of the global stock.
World stocks outside of China are expected to rise by about 3 million bales. The global stocks-to-use ratio is projected at 91%, up a percentage point from 2013-2014 and more than double the 2010-2011 level, according to the USDA.