The Chinese yarn that can’t go to the US is now finding its way into the Indian market at cheaper rates, further reducing demand for expensive domestic Indian cotton yarn that has already been down. Indian cotton has been one of the cheapest in the world till September 2021, when Indian as well as global cotton prices started rising.
In September 2021, prices were around ₹51,000 a candy (of 356 kg). Then it reached around ₹1.1 lakh by April this year. During these seven months, the pace of increase of Indian cotton prices was much faster than that of global cotton, which made Indian yarn uncompetitive.
“We used to export 110-120 million kgs of yarn a month, which came down to 40-45 million kgs a month from June due to high cotton prices. Last month, we imported 4,000 containers of cotton yarn from China, which is around 80 million kgs,” said an executive of a textile company from North India.
India imported $568 million of cotton and cotton products in April-July 2022, more than double the $259 million imports a year earlier. The import of these products from China was $46.6 million.
The domestic industry has been affected adversely.
Lalit Mahajan, senior vice president at Welspun India, said: “Most of the mills have either shut down their spindles or have gone for making substitute fibres like viscose, polyester, etc. Our (India’s) yarn exports in August fell to less than one-third of the normal monthly yarn exports. The export orders for Indian yarn, textile, garments, etc., are very low, while the Indian domestic cotton and yarn prices are still higher by 23% than the New York futures prices,” he said.
The industry executive from North India said: “If the cheaper Chinese yarn is coming to India, it is going to be a big problem for Indian spinners. Chinese cotton and yarn have always been costlier by 10-25% than Indian cotton. Normally, no import of cotton yarn used to take place from China.”
Atul Ganatra, president of the Cotton Association of India said about 50% of the spindles had become idle. “The entire spinning industry is depressed due to the unprecedented price fluctuations in cotton that we saw in 2021-22. Exports have fallen by 70%,” Ganatra said.
Indian yarn exported to China and Bangladesh gets converted into fabric and garments and then gets exported to Europe and the US. A fall in garment imports by Europe and the US due to recessionary pressures, in turn, has already cut the demand for Indian yarn from China and Bangladesh. The impact due to the US ban on fabrics from Xinjiang has added to that.
“Indian cotton yarn was always competitive in the world. Now, Chinese cotton yarn has started coming into India due to the issues related to Xinjiang province, speculation on cotton prices in the Indian market and a delay in the removal of import duty on cotton,” said K Selvaraju, secretary general of the South Indian Mills Association.