Top Raw Cotton Importing Countries In The World

Cotton in full bloom.
Cotton in full bloom.

What Is Raw Cotton?

Cotton is a shrub plant that grows in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. It produces a ball of fiber, almost entirely cellulose, which grows around a single seed and helps to spread it in the wind. This fiber is separated from the plant and pulled and spun into yarn and thread that is used to produce textiles. Cotton textiles date back to at least 6000 BC, although common use did not begin until modern times, after the advent of the cotton gin machine. Today, cotton is the top source of natural fiber for clothing production.

Growing And Harvesting Raw Cotton

The cotton plant needs significant sunlight and between 24 and 47 inches of rainfall in order to grow successfully. Cotton farmers tend to rely heavily on genetically modified strains, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In Australia, the US, and Europe, cotton is harvested with the help of a cotton picker machine, which removes the fiber without killing the entire plant. In less developed countries, cotton is more commonly harvested by hand. In addition to being used for clothing, raw cotton is also used to make coffee filters, fishing nets, bookbinding, and tents.

Top Raw Cotton Importing Countries In The World

Raw cotton is the 278th most commonly traded product in the world. The top 3 exporters of raw cotton are: the US ($4.06 billion or 36%), India ($1.71 billion or 15%), and Brazil ($1.26 billion or 11%). This section takes a closer look at where those exports are going.


China is the top raw cotton importing country in the world. It receives 21% of global exports at a value of $2.37 billion. Of this total, 38% is imported from the US at a value of $893 million. This is followed by raw cotton imports from Australia, which are worth $481 million (20% of total imports). The third largest supplier of raw cotton to China is India, which provides 14% of the country’s total raw cotton imports (worth $333 million).


The second largest raw cotton importer in the world is Vietnam, which receives 13% of the world’s raw cotton exports. This percentage has a value of $1.49 billion. The largest percentage of raw cotton (45%) to Vietnam come from the US, or $667 million worth. Brazil is the second largest supplier of this product to Vietnam, providing 14% of its total imports at a cost of $210 million. Approximately 13% of its raw cotton imports comes from India, at a value of $191 million.


Turkey is the third largest raw cotton importing country in the world. This country buys 11% of total global raw cotton exports at a cost of $1.2 billion. Like the countries previously mentioned, Turkey receives the largest percentage of this import from the US. In fact, 41% of its raw cotton imports come from this country at a value of $496 million. Following the US, the second largest supplier of raw cotton to Turkey is Turkmenistan, which accounts for 17% of its total imports, worth $208 million. Greece is the third largest provider, supplying Turkey with 15% (or $180 million worth) of its total imported raw cotton.

This is a look at the top 3 raw cotton importing countries. The chart published below offers a more in-depth look at the top 10 countries.

Top Raw Cotton Importing Countries In The World

RankCountryTotal % of Import In The WorldValue Of Import In USD ($) B=billion, M=million
1China212.37 B
2Vietnam131.49 B
3Turkey111.2 B
4Bangladesh91.01 B
5Indonesia7793 M
6Pakistan5.6631 M
7South Korea4.1465 M
8Thailand4.3488 M
9India3.3367 M
10Malaysia2.6296 M

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