U.S. Pima's Long-Term Role in the World ELS Market

Matthew S. Laughlin


The impact of the United States' sudden rise in the world ELS market more than four years ago is finally being fully realized by its chief competitors. You need to look no further than the price chart depicting four consecutive years of price cuts by Egypt to measure the effects of American Pima's emergence in this specialized market. Before the arrival of the U.S., this rather predictable market was controlled by Egypt. It was the only country which offered a reliable supply of exportable, high-quality ELS cotton year in and year out. Its primary competitors - countries such as the former Soviet Union, China, Peru, India, Sudan and Israel - could not consistently compete in supply and quality because of governmental intervention and production problems. Egypt was able to control the market and, for all intents and purposes, the price. The 1988 arrival of the United States into the global ELS picture could not have come at a better time for the chief importers of this extra fine cotton. Prices had reached an all-time high as supply had shrunk to a shortage level. Egypt and other competitors, however, looked upon the intrusion of the U.S. in their coveted market as a mere annoyance, something that would surely go away once the major ELS-consuming countries had made their point about run-away prices. But what the suppliers did not see coming was a devastating world economic recession which would lead to a sustained reduction of 35% in world use of ELS cotton since 1986. Price, which served more as an excuse to keep traditional suppliers like Egypt honest, has become a matter of survival in today's market.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1994 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 85 - 86
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998