U.S. mill use of American upland cotton is expected to continue its downward spiral over the next decade, while exports are expected to increase to about 13 million bales for most of the period as more processing takes place in developing countries with lower labor costs.

According to USDA’s February 2005 Agricultural Baseline Projections, the elimination Jan. 1, 2005, of U.S. textile and apparel import quotas established under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement will further increase the flood of apparel imports, reducing domestic apparel production even more, and lowering the apparel industry’s demand for fabric and yarn produced in the United States.

Some increase in U.S. yarn and fabric exports is projected, “but the net effect is for declining domestic mill use, projected at less than 40 percent of its 1997-98 level through the end of the decade.”

Exports of upland cotton are expected to remain relatively stable, at 12.8 million to 13.6 million bales annually through 2014.

As growth slows in the recent-years rapid expansion of the Chinese textile industry, growth in that country’s import demand and in global cotton trade are expected to slow.

“Thus, despite only a small expansion in U.S. cotton exports, the U.S. share of global cotton trade is projected to remain in the 36 percent to 37 percent range,” according to the Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee.

e-mail: hbrandon@primediabusiness.com