China imported 2.14 million tonnes of cotton in the first 11 months of last year, a decline of 37.2 percent from the same period of the previous year, sources with the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday.
But the import price of each tonne of cotton averaged 1,394.3 U.S. dollars, up 4.4 percent. In November alone, the average price rose 11.2 percent to 1,507.9 U.S. dollars per tonne.
The imports were valued at 2.98 billion U.S. dollars, down 34.4 percent, reflecting the decline in the imported amount.
The sources attributed the imports decline largely to increasing domestic production and dampened demand from downstream enterprises.
The central government earmarked 500 million yuan (70 million U.S. dollars) last year as subsidies for farmers to buy improved cotton seeds. The move raised enthusiasm to expand areas sown with cotton and improve growing technology.
China was estimated to yield a record total of 7.22 million tonnes of cotton last year, up 7.3 percent year on year.
Thanks to improved transport, shipments out of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a major cotton production base, increased 50 percent from the previous year. This helped ease shortage in coastal regions.
Meanwhile, demand remained lukewarm among textile enterprises, which suffered export earnings decline due partly to lowered tax rebates and appreciation of Chinese currency.
According to the customs sources, of the total cotton imports between January and November 2007, general trade made up for 895,000 tonnes, down 49.7 percent, and processing trade, 474,000 tonnes, down 15.2 percent.
Up to 651,000 tonnes was imported by state-owned enterprises, down 55 percent, 509,000 tonnes by private businesses, down 18.4 percent, and 465,000 tonnes by foreign-funded companies, down 16.5 percent.
The United States and India were the major cotton suppliers for China, accounting for 70.6 percent of China's total cotton imports.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)