During the first half of the current marketing year, cotton shipments from the US have lagged compared to the same period previous year. This is the second lowest level in the last decade and well below the 38 per cent decadal average. As of last week in January, accumulated exports this season were just 32.5 per cent of the new forecast.
Several factors are likely to pressure US exports in the coming months. In Australia, the cotton crop is expected to be the largest in six years, and harvest appears to have begun appreciably earlier than usual, which may enable early export shipments. As a result, US exports may face fiercer competition from Australia.
US exports would also be affected due to an increase in cotton production in Mexico this year. The doubling of the Mexican crop this year is expected to curtail imports in the second half of the season relative to the first half of the season. As such, US shipments to that major market may slow noticeably.
Also, since the beginning of cotton year 2018, implementation of new US trucking regulations has reportedly caused delays in transporting cotton from US warehouses, a situation which may not be entirely resolved and backlogs cleared before the end of the season.