Textile executives from eight Chinese mills and two Hong Kong mills will tour the U.S. Cotton Belt June 9-16 to get a close look at U.S. cotton production, processing and marketing and to meet with U.S. exporters.

China is U.S. cotton’s largest consumer, Hong Kong ranks 18th.

This and all COTTON USA Special Trade Missions seek to enhance trading ties between the U.S. cotton industry and key overseas textile manufacturing customers — with a goal of capturing additional market share for U.S. cotton.

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Cotton Council International (CCI) President John Burch, a Bakersfield, Calif., cooperative official, said these CCI-sponsored trade missions are vital because U.S. cotton has become highly reliant on healthy exports. Pointing to USDA’s May report, which sees exports accounting for 11.50 million bales of the projected 14-million bale 2013 U.S. cotton crop, he said, “it is imperative that we cultivate business relationships with these key overseas customers.”

Burch noted that during the 2012-13 marketing year, which ends in August, the mills represented on this tour are expecting to collectively consume about 2.2 million bales of which about 990,000 (or 44 percent) will be U.S. cotton.

The 11 executives and a representative from China Textile News in Beijing will begin their tour in New York with a CCI briefing and an ICE Futures seminar.

They will observe cotton research in North Carolina, tour the USDA cotton classing office in Bartlett, Tenn., and visit a farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

They also will meet with exporters in the four major Cotton Belt regions and with the following industry organizations: National Cotton Council, American Cotton Producers, Cotton Incorporated, American Cotton Shippers Association, Southern Cotton Growers Association, Texas Cotton Association, Plains Cotton Growers Association, Lubbock Cotton Exchange, AMCOT, Western Cotton Shippers Association, San Joaquin Valley Quality Cotton Growers Association and Supima.