May 25, 2018 / 8:02 AM / 7 months ago

India's cotton exports could hit 4-yr high on price rally, weak rupee

* Industry body sees 2017/18 exports at 7.5 mln bales

* That would be up nearly 30 pct from year before

* Rally in global prices, weak rupee boost shipments

* Imports seen at 1.2 mln bales vs 3 mln bales in previous year

* Stockpiles could drop to lowest in decades at 2 mln bales

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI, May 25 (Reuters) - India’s 2017/18 cotton exports are likely to jump nearly 30 percent from the year before to a four-year high of 7.5 million bales, as climbing global prices and a weaker rupee boost overseas demand, the head of an industry body told Reuters.

Increased supply from India could drag on a rally in international prices for the commodity and would likely compete with shipments to Asia from exporters like the United States, Brazil and Australia.

“We can end the season with exports of 7.5 million bales,” said Atul Ganatra, president of the Cotton Association of India (CAI), adding that higher international prices would drive up shipments.

The country has exported 6.3 million bales so far in the marketing year that started on Oct. 1 , he added. Each bale contains 170 kg of cotton.

India shipped 5.82 million bales of cotton overseas last marketing year, according to data compiled by the state-run textile commissioner’s office.

ICE cotton futures hit four-year highs earlier this week on buying from Chinese hedge funds, amid expectations of an increase in exports from the United States after trade war fears with China receded.

The Indian rupee has fallen more than 6 percent in 2018, making Indian cotton cheaper for overseas buyers, said Nayan Mirani, partner at leading cotton exporter Khimji Visram & Sons.

“There is export demand but supply of good quality cotton is limited as the season is coming to an end,” he said.

Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Vietnam are the main buyers of Indian fibre.

Indian cotton is being offered around 84 to 86 cents per lb on a cost and freight basis (C&F) to buyers in Bangladesh and Vietnam, compared to over 92 cents from the United Sates and Brazil, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm. He declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak with media.

Meanwhile, the country’s cotton imports could drop to 1.2 million bales in 2017/18 from 3 million bales the year before, said Ganatra at CAI.

The South Asian country usually imports long staple cotton from the United States and Egypt.

And a pick-up in local consumption amid higher exports is likely to erode India’s cotton stockpile, Mirani said.

India’s cotton consumption is likely to rise 5.3 percent in 2017/18 from the year before to 32.4 million bales, CAI estimates.

The country could end the 2017/18 season with closing stocks of less than 2 million tonnes, the lowest in decades, Ganatra estimates. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav Editing by Joseph Radford)

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