Despite ongoing uncertainties in global trade patterns, India will remain the world's top cotton producer in 2020/21, and the US will continue to be the top exporter, according to a new monthly update. 

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) also notes that China will again be the fibre's top consumer – although ongoing trade conflicts mean it is shifting much of its purchases to Brazil.

Based on China Customs statistics, the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) says both Brazil and the US increased their share of cotton imports to China in 2019/20. For Brazil, imports rose 18.7% year-on-year to 565,000 tonnes, while the US saw its cotton imports into China climb 27.8% to 473,000 tonnes. In contrast, China's cotton imports from Australia tumbled 62% to 204,000 tonnes.

The ICAC, an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries, also says global cotton production for 2020/21 is likely to be lower than previously forecast. Almost all major producers will see their production fall in the coming year – except for India, whose total production is seen expanding to 6.2m tonnes. 

The latest update puts global cotton production at 24.6m tonnes in 2020/21, down from the 25.1m tonnes previously estimated for the year.

In the midst of one of the most unpredictable and chaotic periods in living memory – characterised by the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing trade conflicts – global cotton trade is forecast at 9.19m tonnes.

And, despite the shift in China's fibre purchases, the United States is expected to export 3.18m tonnes and retain its position as the world's biggest cotton exporter.

The estimate for global consumption in 2020/21 remains unchanged at 24.3m tonnes, with China accounting for about 30% of that amount. 

The Secretariat's current price projection for the year-end 2020/21 average of the A Index is 67.4 cents per pound.