Feb. 8, 2017
In International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)’s first estimate of the 2017/18 crop, the Secretariat predicts that world cotton output will rise by 2% to 23.4 million tons. The expansion is the result of an increase in planted area, which is expected to grow by 5% to 30.6 million hectares after two seasons of contraction. After improving by 13% to 781 kg/ha in 2016/17, the world average yield is projected to decline by 2% to 764 kg/ha.
In 2016/17, the cotton area in India, the largest cotton-producing country, fell by 12% to 10.5 million hectares due to competition from food crops. However, the average yield recovered by 16% to 560 kg/ha, and production in 2016/17 is estimated to rise by 2% to 5.9 million tons. In 2017/18, India’s area is forecast to recover by 7% to 11.2 million hectares as firm domestic cotton prices and less attractive prices for competing crops attract more farmers to cotton. Assuming a national average yield of 530 kg/ha, production will increase by 1% to 6 million tons.
Cotton area in China declined for five consecutive seasons, reaching 2.8 million hectares in 2016/17. However, output has not fallen as quickly due to the fact that the share of cotton grown in Xinjiang, which has higher yields than other producing regions in China, has increased considerably. China’s cotton production in 2016/17 is estimated at 4.7 million tons. In 2017/18, its cotton area may expand by 3% to 2.9 million hectares, and cotton output in China could reach 4.8 million tons in 2017/18.
Following a season of higher than expected yields and firm cotton prices, cotton area in the United States is expected to expand by 10% to 4.2 million hectares in 2017/18. The average yield in the United States improved by 12% to 958 kg/ha in 2016/17, and production is estimated at 3.7 million tons. In 2017/18, production in the United States is projected to rise by 7% to 4 million tons, assuming an average yield of 935 kg/ha.
A significant drop in yields and poor returns in 2015/16 led to a 12% decrease to 2.5 million hectares in Pakistan’s cotton area in 2016/17. The average yield recovered by 32% to 699 kg/ha and output is estimated up by 17% to 1.8 million tons. Pakistan’s cotton area is forecast to increase by 3% to 2.6 million hectares, and assuming a yield of 739 kg/ha, Pakistan’s production could reach 1.9 million tons.
World cotton mill use is expected to remain stable at 24.1 million tons in 2016/17 as high cotton prices discouraged growth in demand. However, mill use may expand by 1% to 24.3 million tons in 2017/18. Mill use in the top three consuming countries, China, India, and Pakistan, is expected to remain unchanged from 2016/17. However, mill use is forecast to grow in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Vietnam by 2% to 1.5 million tons, by 5% to 1.5 million tons, and by 7% to 1.2 million tons, respectively.
Given the continued growth in mill use in countries that depend on imports, world cotton trade is projected to increase by 5% to 8.2 million tons in 2017/18 from 7.8 million tons in 2016/17. Bangladesh is likely to maintain its position as the world’s largest importer of cotton with its volume forecast to rise by 5% to 1.5 million tons. Vietnam’s import volume is projected to grow by 8% to 1.3 million tons. Given the large exportable surplus and strong demand, exports from the United States are anticipated to rise by 17% to 3.2 million tons in 2017/18. India’s exports are forecast to fall by 7% to 875,000 tons in 2017/18.
World cotton stocks are expected to decline by 6% at the end of 2016/17 to 18.1 million tons as China reduces its stocks by 17% to 9.3 million tons. However, stocks outside of China are projected to increase by 8% to 8.8 million tons or 36% of mill use in 2016/17.