WASHINGTON (B)--China should produce 3.5 million tonnes of cotton in the 2000-01 marketing-year, down from estimates for the current year, an economist for the government-chartered China National Cotton Exchange indicated Feb. 25. The 2000-01 crop forecast is equivalent to about 16 million bales. U.S. Department of Agriculture's 1999-00 crop projection for China is 17.6 million bales.

Haowu Ding, speaking at the USDA Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, said the expected decrease in cotton output is a result of the government intention to "rebalance supply and demand," combined with expected lower yields and poor growing conditions.

Ding ranked government efforts to limit Chinese cotton planting as the number one factor in the forecast for diminished production in 2000-01.

"Now, the government is still discouraging cotton production," Ding said. "Therefore, it is clear that China's cotton areas will be reduced further, and production will decrease again," he said.

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