By P.K. Jha

New Delhi– India will export 65-70 lakh bales of cotton in the ongoing cotton season 2017-18 (October-September) amid aggressive demands from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and China, said an official on Thursday.

Atul Ganatra, President, Cotton Association of India (CAI), said that apart from the neighbouring countries, India has also been receiving demands for cotton from several other countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey.

According to the CAI, India had exported 63 lakh bales of cotton last year. Each bale has nearly 170 kg of cotton.

Foreign buyers are interested in sourcing cotton from India as they find it cost effective and less expensive in comparison to other countries, said Ganatra.

India has already shipped nearly 53-55 lakh bales in the current season and contracts have been signed for another 8-10 lakh bales scheduled for shipment in April-May.

According to him, Indian cotton exports would reach 65 lakh bales by May-end as Bangladesh, the world’s largest cotton importer, does not have much of its own production and its spinning mills largely depend on imports.

“In the early six months of this cotton production and marketing season 2017-18 (October-March), India has sold 55 lakh bales of cotton, of which 17 lakh bales have been shipped to Bangladesh followed by 11 lakh bales to Pakistan, 10 lakh to Vietnam, seven lakh to China, 7 lakh to Indonesia and Taiwan, and 3 lakh to other countries including Sri Lanka, Turkey and Thailand, among others,” the CAI chief told IANS.

In case China’s demand shifts from the US to India, its largest supplier, it will be a win-win situation for both cotton growers and suppliers as the prices of Indian cotton will move up, he said.

“But at present China has huge stocks in its government vault for current year’s consumption, therefore, it will not source much. However, by the end of season, India’s cotton exports to China may touch 10 lakh bales,” Ganatra added.

The CAI had pegged India’s cotton crop at 362 lakh bales for 2017-18 in its monthly report on March 9, 2018, down five lakh bales from the previous month as pink ball worms infestation and dry weather caused severe damage to the cotton crop this year in the Maharashtra and Telangana regions — the two key cotton producers in India.

As per the Association estimates, the consumption of local mills is 330 lakh bales. Taking into account the export figure of 65-70 lakh bales, the aggregate demand works out to nearly 400 lakh bales.

As for the supplies, it is pegged at 412 lakh bales, with 362 lakh bales of the current year’s production and 30 lakh carry-forward bales, while imports are expected to be around 20 lakh bales. Hence, the closing stocks would be around 12 lakh bales.

As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures, India is the largest producer of cotton in the world with 365 lakh bales this year, followed by China (353 lakh bales), the U.S. (273 lakh bales), Pakistan (105 lakh bales) and Brazil (103 lakh bales).

The five largest exporters of cotton are the U.S. (186 lakh bales), Australia (56 lakh bales), Brazil (54 lakh bales), India (54 lakh bales) and Uzbekistan (15 lakh bales).

As per the US agency, five major consumers of cotton are China (513 lakh bales), India (314 lakh bales), Pakistan (134 lakh bales), Bangladesh, (92 lakh bales) and Turkey (90 lakh bales).

The five major importers are Bangladesh (93 lakh bales), China (64 lakh bales), Vietnam (54 lakh bales), Indonesia (45 lakh bales) and Turkey (45 lakh bales). (IANS)