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USDA: Bangladesh Overtakes China as World’s Largest Cotton Importer

Bangladesh is now importing more cotton than any other country in the world.

According to the latest cotton report out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), strong growth in Bangladesh’s imports and dips in China’s have pushed the Southeast Asian nation to the top of the import charts.

For the 2015-16 season, Bangladesh imported 500,000 more bales of cotton, bringing it to 6.2 million and solidifying its position as top importer of the commodity, USDA reported. Consumption was raised a more modest 300,000 bales to 6.1 million owed to growth in spinning. Looking to the 2016-17 season, import projections are raised to 6.3 million, and consumption 6.4 million.

“The increase in imports raises Bangladesh’s share of global imports to just over 18 percent, more than double that seen five years before,” according to USDA. “This large change in Bangladesh’s imports in turn impacts various cotton exporters, especially West African origins such as Benin and Burkina Faso, and Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan.”

Bangladesh is taking in more Uzbek cotton than previously projected, making for an uptick in the Uzbek export estimate for the season.

When it comes to exports, U.S. projections are raised 500,000 bales to 12 million on “stronger global import demand,” the report noted. Brazil is cut 500,000 bales to 2.9 million on smaller crop while Australia is raised 800,000 bales to 4.2 million on a “significantly” larger crop.

Production projections for the current season are up 6.61% over the same time last year to 102.7 million bales, due mostly to the significant increase in Australia.

India is expected to produce the most cotton for the season at 5.7 million tons, followed by China with 4.5 million and the U.S. with 3.5 million.

Prices remain stable for now, with the world market price for Upland cotton in the week ending Oct. 20 at 57.90 cents per pound, down slightly from last week’s 58.71 cents. The U.S. season average farm price is expected to be raised one cent from previous estimates to 64 cents per pound in the 2016-17 season.