Cotton growers were happy to see the latest results from World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. This news release from the National Cotton Council (NCC) said U.S. trade negotiators were able to resist pressure for further concessions on cotton during the recent 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
“U.S. negotiators held firm with respect to any cotton specific outcomes, ensuring that the United States would not face any new restrictions on cotton domestic support,” [National Cotton Council (NCC) Chairman Sledge Taylor, a Mississippi producer and ginner,] said.
To continue to highlight the shortcomings in WTO notifications by major producing countries, the decision was made to continue the cotton dedicated discussions within the WTO for purposes of providing greater transparency and complete notifications of subsidies by all countries.
The Nairobi ministerial declaration also reaffirms that developed countries shall provide duty free/quota free access for cotton and cotton-related products to least developed countries (LDCs). The United States already has provided this access for LDCs.
Across agriculture, the declaration calls for the immediate elimination of agricultural export subsidies by developed countries and within three years for developing countries, while there are limited exceptions until 2023 for transportation and marketing subsidies by developing countries, subject to conditions. The agreement also will align the use of export credits by all countries to the same terms as those currently utilized by the United States, creating a more level playing field.
“While the overall outcome of the Ministerial is generally positive, there continues to be unwarranted pressure and focus on U.S. cotton policy by some WTO members,” Taylor stated. “The NCC will continue to utilize the WTO forum to advance the recognition that the global cotton market has evolved significantly since 2003, when cotton was initially singled out as a separate agenda item at the Cancun WTO ministerial. Over the past decade, U.S. cotton farmers have experienced a decline in their safety net, while the surge in Asian polyester production has reshaped global fiber markets.”