Cotton and textile industry leaders who participated in the COTTON USA™ Executive Delegation to Latin America expect to purchase an additional 553,000 bales of U.S. cotton, valued at approximately $214 million. The Executive Delegation is funded by the Foreign Market Development fund (FMD) and provides U.S. cotton leaders with a valuable opportunity to represent the U.S. cotton industry in foreign markets through a series of coordinated meetings that promote U.S. cotton and U.S. cotton products and to build important business relationships in key U.S. cotton export markets.
In 2023, the delegation traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru, all of which are among the top 20 export markets for U.S. cotton fiber. Additionally, in MY 21/22, U.S. domestic mills exported over 2 million bale equivalents of cotton yarn, thread, and fabric to the Latin American region, solidifying it as the number one export destination for U.S. value-added cotton exports. In fact, the Western Hemisphere represents the 2nd largest market for U.S. cotton (after China) representing 25-30% of the U.S. cotton crop. However, it is important to note that U.S market share in the region cannot be taken for granted as other cotton-producing countries such as Brazil and West Africa compete in terms of price and sometimes quality and availability. Also, cotton, including U.S. cotton, faces competition from synthetic, regenerated, and recycled fibers in the region. While the Latin American region has traditionally shown loyalty to U.S cotton, with unparalleled market share levels compared to the rest of the world, increasing competition makes it crucial for Cotton Council International (CCI) to remain engaged in the region.
The delegation held meetings with representatives from all sectors of the Latin American textile industry, including spinning, knitting, weaving, and apparel manufacturers as well as retailers. The meetings provided updates on important aspects that differentiate U.S. cotton, such as its sustainability story through the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®, logistics and shipping, and U.S. agricultural policies. These topics are particularly relevant as re-shoring and near-shoring strategies gain prominence among U.S, and European brands and retailers. Latin America, with its geographic proximity, relatively low labor costs, and existing free trade agreements, is well- positioned to benefit from these strategies. Given U.S. cotton’s substantial market share in the region, it also stands to benefit from these developments as long as it continues to be the preferred fiber choice of mills, manufacturers, and retailers. After attending, 100% of the participants believe U.S. cotton quality is better than cotton grown in other regions and 93% are likely to purchase U.S. cotton in the future.
Beyond educating the participants on the advantages of U.S. cotton, the Executive Delegation facilitated the development of relationships between the U.S. cotton industry leaders and their Latin American counterparts. These relationships are crucial to sustaining U.S. cotton exports to the region. An overwhelming majority, 97% of the participants, felt their participation helped them build valuable business relationships and as a direct result of attending, 89% of the participants expect to purchase additional U.S. cotton or U.S. cotton products over the next year.