Inconsistencies in compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules point up "the absolute necessity of maintaining a partnership between the U.S. government and U.S. agriculture," says Robert McLendon, National Cotton Council president.

"Two things seem virtually certain after all the WTO talking is done," he said at the 2001 Beltwide Cotton Conferences at Anaheim, Calif. "While agricultural subsidies by other nations will be reduced, they won't be eliminated. And, many countries will continue to outspend the U.S. by substantial margins, even after negotiated reductions.

"These realities also underscore the importance of our maintaining a strong, unified voice through the National Cotton Council as new farm policy is debated in the months ahead."

Maintaining domestic and international competitiveness is crucial for raw cotton as well as for cotton products, said McLendon, a Leary, Ga. grower.

"The year 2000 will be remembered as a benchmark year in trade developments. Trade rules, like price, affect our ability to be competitive."

The long-debated Caribbean Basin Parity legislation was finally enacted last year, he noted, and is expected to generate significant benefits for U.S. growers.

Other significant trade developments included a decision by the U.S. to remain in the WTO; approval of China's accession to the WTO; and the granting of permanent normal trade relations to China.