Indian trade body cuts cotton exports estimate

A worker harvests cotton in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s cotton exports could fall to 4.4 million bales in 2018/19, down 4.3 percent from the previous estimate as production dropped to its lowest level in nine years, a trade body said on Wednesday.

Lower exports by the world’s biggest cotton producer could support global prices which are trading near their lowest in 3-1/2 years and help rivals such as the United States, Brazil and Australia increase cargoes to key Asian buyers such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The south Asian country exported 6.9 million bales in 2017/18.

India is expected to have produced 31.2 million bales in the current marketing year ending on Sept. 30, down 14.5 percent from a year ago, the Cotton Association of India (CAI) said.

Lower production forced textile manufactures to ramp up overseas purchases, said Atul Ganatra, president of the CAI.

New Delhi has imported 2.3 million cotton bales so far in the current marketing year and the imports could surge to a record 2.9 million bales by the end of this season, up from 1.5 million bales a year ago, he said.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by David Evans