World Cotton Trade: Prospects and Issues for the next Decade

Stephen MacDonald, Carolyn Whitton


Foreign cotton production and consumption growth during 1994-2005 will pick up from the slow rates seen during the early 1990's, and return to close to their historical rate of 2.4 percent per year. World cotton trade is expected to average a 1.2 growth rate annually during the entire 1994-2005 period, increasing to 1.4 percent growth in the early years of the next century. World trade in the year 2005 is projected at 30-32 million bales. Factors which could substantially alter trade growth include the implementation of a GATT agreement, and developments in the former Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe.

Prospects for world production and trade over the coming decade depend critically upon a number of developments with highly uncertain outcomes. Future developments in the former Soviet Union (FSU) and implementation of the GATT round agreement for liberalization of agricultural and textile trade lead the list of uncertainties. The pace of successful reforms in East Europe and China are also critical. Over the next decade these factors could have a significant impact on trade levels, structure, and rates of growth.

This article presents a brief overview of the future of the world cotton market. It identifies prospects for world cotton trade through the year 2005 and highlights issues with the potential to significantly change the market outlook.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1994 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 428 - 431
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998