China’s Dominance in Cotton to Continue: Texas Tech Study

During the next decade, worldwide demand for West Texas' most important agricultural crop – cotton – is projected to grow by about 20 million bales or 16 percent, according to a new analysis by Texas Tech University's Cotton Economics Research Institute.

During the next decade, worldwide demand for West Texas’ most important agricultural crop – cotton – is projected to grow by about 20 million bales or 16 percent, according to a new analysis by Texas Tech University’s Cotton Economics Research Institute.

The experts forecast that in terms of production, China will remain on top while the United States falls to number three as India rises to the second spot on the heels of recent technological breakthroughs in seed and production practices. Not only will more cotton be grown in the Far East, almost all on it will be processed there.

"Mill use is projected to continue to concentrate in Asia," said Samarendu Mohanty, an agricultural economist and associate director of the institute.

By 2016, the nations that lead the world in cotton mill use are projected to be China at 45 percent; India with 16 percent; and Pakistan at 11 percent. Cotton mill use is where the raw cotton fiber is transformed into finished yarns and fabrics.

In addition, Mohanty said, mill use is increasing in several Southeastern Asian countries where there is virtually no cotton production. Meanwhile, mill use in the United States is declining, which makes these overseas export markets all the more important for U.S. producers, he said.

The Texas Tech World Fiber Model baseline projections, which were officially released this month, is based on assumptions of normal weather patterns and current trade policies, along with stable economic fundamentals such as population and income growth, and prices for crops that would compete with cotton.

Looking ahead, the Texas Tech researchers forecast that China will remain the world’s largest cotton producer with a quarter of the market in 2016. There will be a minor shift as India moves to second place with 19 percent, and the United States slips to third at 17 percent. Currently, the United States has 19 percent share of the world cotton production.

Among the factors for the United States fall off is stagnation in acreage planted in cotton. "We’ll see some very slight growth in the Southwest, but in terms of the Delta, Southeast and western areas of Arizona and California there will be acreage declines," said Mark Welch, a research scientist with the Cotton Economics Research Institute.

The Cotton Economics Research Institute provides cotton economic analysis for policy makers and other interested in agricultural economy. The group conducts economic research on all aspects of cotton production, marketing, trade and processing.

Texas, the nation’s leading producer of the fluffy fiber, harvested about 6 million bales in 2006. Nationally, 21.7 million bales were harvested. Cotton is grown across the nation’s Southern tier from Virginia and the Carolinas to California.

CONTACT: Samarendu Mohanty, Associate Director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2023 ext. 240 or sam.mohanty@ttu.edu.