Despite lower cotton exports to most major markets, United States’ exports to Vietnam, its top market, continued another positive year of growth. Recent foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam by several East Asian countries boosted cotton imports and consumption to record levels in 2018-19, with further import growth expected in 2019-20. “Lower US production and trade barriers weighed 2018-19 (cotton) exports down from the previous year. Shipments to eight of the top ten markets fell with China witnessing the largest decline. Despite higher global imports by China, retaliatory tariffs on US cotton allowed other major exporters to supplant US market share,” the Foreign Agriculture Service of the US department of agriculture (USDA) said in its August issue of ‘Cotton: World Markets and Trade’.

US cotton exports to India also witnessed significant growth in 2018-19 and surpassed the previous year by over two-thirds. South Asia was the only region which expanded imports, with India and Bangladesh driving the bulk of demand. Nonetheless, exports fell in all other regions with East Asia (China) accounting for the most significant downturn. Despite Vietnam’s uptick, Indonesia and Thailand helped drag exports to Southeast Asia lower on declining use in both countries. Lower Indonesia yarn exports to China has helped contribute to declining consumption.

In 2019-20, US cotton exports are forecast to expand with a rebounding crop that’s estimated to grow by more than a quarter. With larger exports projected, the United States is expected to help meet greater global demand in 2019-20 with Vietnam imports (the top US market) expected to break the previous year’s record, the report said.