The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and the Indus Valley Civilization (modern day Pakistan). Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that so lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today. The largest producers of cotton, currently are China and India, with annual production of about 34 million bales and 27 million bales, respectively; most of this production is consumed by their respective textile industries. The largest exporters of raw cotton are the United States, with sales of $4.9 billion, and Africa with sales of $2.1 billion. The total international trade is estimated to be $12 billion.
The five leading exporters of cotton in 2011 are (1) the United States, (2) India, (3) Brazil, (4) Australia, and (5) Uzbekistan. The largest nonproducing importers are Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Hong Kong, and Japan.In India, the states of Maharashtra (26.63%), Gujarat (17.96%) and Andhra Pradesh (13.75%) and also Madhya Pradesh are the leading cotton producing states, these states have a predominantly tropical wet and dry climate.
In Pakistan, cotton is grown predominantly in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. The leading area of cotton production is the south Punjab comprising the areas around Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Vehari and Khanewal. In Sindh, Sanghar is the most important cotton producing district. Faisalabad is a leader in textiles within Pakistan. Punjab has a tropical wet and dry climate throughout the year therefore enhancing the growth of cotton.