Brazil could become the world’s second largest cotton exporter. The country is expected to export 1.12 million tons of cotton lint in the 2018-19 harvest, which would place it second to only the United States. The US-China trade war is set to directly benefit Brazilian cotton growers, with Chinese cotton processors indicating they would buy any additional supply of cotton that Brazilian farmers can produce.
China slapped a 25 per cent tariff on US cotton imports, among a raft of duties that took effect in July in response to tariffs announced by the US. Brazil’s overall production is expected to rise to 2.3 million tons of cotton lint in 2018-19 from two million tons the prior season.
Chinese demand will be driving growth in planted areas, with a record 1.4 million hectares of cotton expected next year, and two million hectares by 2022. Right now India is the second largest cotton exporter and Brazil is the third. Brazil has a wealth of arable land, plentiful rainfall, a large group of professional growers using the most advanced technologies, and a strong network of cotton industry associations.
Despite its many advantages, Brazil does have several significant obstacles to overcome before it can take its cotton production to the next level. Foremost on that list are logistics and transportation. Brazil is a huge country—larger than the continental United States—but its road and rail systems are either nonexistent or underdeveloped.