Participants who attended Cotton Day 2022 events in Southeast Asia, funded in part by the Market Access Program (MAP), expect to purchase an additional 500,000 bales of U.S. cotton, valued at approximately $280 million.
Nearly 700 textile executives from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam attended Cotton Day events in the Fall of 2022. Participants included key decision makers in the region. Over 30% of the attendees are fully in charge of their company’s cotton purchasing decisions, with another 60% having some level of decision-making responsibility. Positively shaping this audience’s perception and preference for U.S. cotton is vital for maintaining and increasing U.S. cotton exports to this important region.
Combined, the Southeast Asian region is the largest importer of U.S. cotton, including three of the top 10 U.S. export destinations in MY 2020/21: Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the region is well-positioned for future growth. In recent years, as business has shifted away from China due to increased manufacturing costs and supply chain scrutiny, Southeast Asia has emerged as an increasingly competitive sourcing alternative. This attractiveness has led to significant investments from outside countries, allowing mills in the region to expand capacity, increasing their need for raw cotton fiber. However, unlike other manufacturing hubs around the world, very little cotton is grown in Southeast Asia meaning nearly all of what is consumed needs to be imported.
While the Southeast Asian region has historically been loyal to U.S. cotton, exports to the region have suffered in recent years with increased competition from Brazilian and Australian cotton, with Australian cotton in particular, posing a significant threat. Due to trade conflicts between China and Australia in 2021, China stopped importing cotton grown in Australia, making it more available for other markets. Australian cotton has a major advantage in the Southeast Asian region compared to U.S. cotton based on its geographic proximity. After experiencing long lead times and shipping delays from the U.S. over the past few years, mills in Southeast Asia have started to shift their fiber choice from U.S. cotton to Australian cotton. To combat this change, Cotton Council International (CCI) activities in the region aim to recapture U.S. cotton market share by providing superior services that support mills, including the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® and COTTON USA SOLUTIONS®.
The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® and COTTON USA SOLUTIONS® were prominent features of Cotton Day 2022 events in Southeast Asia. Participants learned how both programs and U.S. cotton can help their companies achieve peak performance during these increasingly uncertain times. In post-surveys of the event, 94% agreed that U.S. cotton quality is better than cotton from other regions, an increase from 82% prior to the event (+12%), and 85% said they were likely to purchase U.S. cotton as a result of attending.
The Cotton Day events also served as opportunities to recognize existing U.S. cotton partners in the region. At Cotton Day Vietnam and Indonesia, U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® members were recognized in front of their peers and Cotton Day Thailand included a sustainable exhibit featuring products made by local Protocol members. These activities helped generate interest in the program and encouraged membership. 95% of the participants agreed they learned a lot about The Protocol and after attending more than 60 companies were interested in joining the program. CCI events like Cotton Days continue to drive U.S. cotton exports as mills in key markets become more educated on and convinced of the value of programs like the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® and COTTON USA SOLUTIONS® which are only available to U.S. cotton customers.