Competition and trade policy in the world cotton market: Implications for US cotton exports

William Ridley, Stephen Devadoss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cotton is a cornerstone of global fiber markets, and many importing and exporting countries play important roles in the global cotton market. The US cotton sector has long been one of the world's largest. However, Brazil's cotton production has rapidly grown, and the country has become one of the leading cotton producers, accounting for an ever-increasing share of world cotton production and trade. This meteoric rise has put Brazil's cotton sector in frequent competition with the United States over export sales and market share. We empirically investigate how the expansion of the Brazilian cotton sector has impacted the US cotton sector's position in world markets by quantifying the extent to which rising Brazilian production has caused reallocations of US exports. We also explore how the recent US–China trade war affected these market dynamics by assessing the impacts of China's retaliatory tariffs on US cotton. Our results show that Brazil's cotton production has caused a major disruption to US cotton exports, resulting in a significant reduction in US exports to large cotton importers such as China, Vietnam, and Pakistan, and that these trends were reversed (at least temporarily) by the US–China trade dispute. By illustrating how competitive forces and trade disputes have shaped recent market dynamics for this key commodity, our work adds to the growing literature examining the interplay between competition and trade policy in the global agricultural sector.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1387
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Brazil
  • cotton
  • gravity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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