Cotton 2020 Export Highlights

Top 10 Export Markets for U.S. Cotton

(values in million USD)
Commodity  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2019-2020 % Change 2016-2020 Average
China  551 973 920 705 1,821 158% 994
Vietnam  788 1,056 1,312 1,429 1,163 -19% 1,150
Pakistan  202 297 615 628 788 25% 506
Turkey  495 730 682 648 577 -11% 626
Bangladesh  95 284 387 388 330 -15% 297
Indonesia  346 498 600 416 264 -37% 425
Mexico  339 404 372 288 178 -38% 316
India  251 435 333 587 148 -75% 351
Thailand  164 213 272 215 119 -44% 197
South Korea 165 248 231 167 111 -34% 184
All Others  564 689 826 671 470 -30% 644
Total Exported  3,959 5,827 6,550 6,141 5,968 -3% 5,689

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Trade Data - BICO HS-10

Highlights

U.S. exports of cotton declined 3 percent in 2020 to $6 billion but remained the fifth-highest export value on record. Exports to China surged by more than 150 percent to reach a 7-year high. Exports to Pakistan realized their fifth consecutive record. Exports to other markets were largely down, with 15 of the top 20 markets down by more than 30 percent. Much of the increase to China was destined for the State Reserve (SR), which limited supplies available for other markets. Brazil, which saw its third consecutive record crop, increased its market share relative to the United States in 20 of the top 25 import markets.

Global consumption in 2020 was dramatically affected by COVID-19 as consumer demand shrank and mill use fell by nearly 20 percent. Trade volume was reduced by nearly 10 percent. World and U.S. prices fell sharply in the first quarter of 2020 due to concerns over the impact of COVID-19 and large global stocks. However, prices rallied mid-year, supported by increasing prices for other commodities, and ended the year at a 2-year high.

Drivers

  • Global impact of COVID-19 sharply decreased demand for cotton/textiles.
  • China State Reserve purchases of U.S. cotton limited availability of high-grade cotton to other markets.
  • Increased competition dampened U.S. exports as Brazil expanded export capacity and shipped record volumes year-round, including during typically slow export months.

Global Cotton Exports

Stacked bar graph showing global cotton exports.

Looking Ahead

U.S. cotton exports are forecast unchanged at 15.5 million bales for the marketing year ending July 2022. Global trade volume is also expected stable.

SR purchases of U.S. cotton fueled shipments to China, and these types of purchases in 2021 are expected to shift back to domestic cotton, limiting U.S. sales.

Strong competition from key competitors such as Brazil is also expected to dampen U.S. exports. Brazil’s projected crop in the coming months is only down slightly from last year’s third consecutive record crop.

<< Return to Full Yearbook