Cotton prices expected to skyrocket

Washington — Putting crushing pressure on U.S. textiles producers already hard hit and often struggling with massive debt loads, world cotton prices are expected to skyrocket this year and next as the world supply of cotton tightens, pressured by rising demand, falling production, and an insatiable appetite for cotton in China, where imports this year are racing up eleven-fold.

The International Cotton Advisory Committee, a worldwide consortium of cotton growers, said prices for the 2002/03 cotton year, which runs from September through August, are now expected to average $0.58 a pound, up 38.1 percent from a year ago. And prices next year are forecast to shoot up again, to $0.66 a pound, a gain of almost 14 percent from this year's anticipated average price.

The culprit, said the ICAC, is a devastating combination of sharply lower production, down at double-digit levels, and rising consumption.

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