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Commodities

Cotton shortage deepens as apparel makers in China buy American

Inventories hit rock-bottom levels on delayed U.S. harvest, driving up prices

A cotton field in the U.S. state of Alabama: Poor weather in the U.S. this past spring forced farmers to plant later than usual, in turn pushing back the harvest.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- A global shortage of cotton is worsening rapidly due to a delayed harvest in the U.S., the largest exporter, as fashion brands with a footprint in China avoid cotton from the western part of the country over alleged human rights abuses there.

Cotton inventories have declined to the lowest level in 10 years for products that are certified by the U.S.-based Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). "It's unprecedentedly low," is how Nobuo Oshimo, representative director at the Japan Cotton Traders' Association, described the inventory situation.

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