The National Cotton Council is extremely disappointed in the Declaration approved by the participants in the Ministerial Conference recently concluded in Hong Kong. NCC Chairman Woods Eastland said that the Declaration's text is not consistent with the concept of a single undertaking for agriculture and establishes an unwise precedent for World Trade Organization (WTO) trade negotiations.

“The text, though bracketed indicating lack of complete consensus, suggests the EU and the U.S. will be asked to take larger cuts quicker, to give preferred access to products produced by the Least Developed Countries with nothing in return, and to end export subsidies for cotton before the implementation period of the agreement is likely to begin,” Eastland says. “The text is not a single undertaking approach to the negotiations; it clearly singles out cotton.

“We appreciate the efforts of Ambassador Portman, Secretary Johanns and their staff, but this bracketed text offers very little to the U.S. cotton industry and requires significant, unilateral concessions in return. Throughout the cotton discussion, we have documented reliable economic studies published by prestigious international and academic organizations, which conclude that the U.S. cotton program is not responsible for poverty in Africa. Further, the parties continue to ignore the realities of the complicated world markets for fibers and textiles and the importance of increasing domestic consumption in developed and newly developed countries.”

“Apparently, emotion has over-ruled fact. U.S. cotton producers should not be asked to accept unfair, unequal treatment in the Doha Round,” Eastland says. “We call on all parties to work to return the negotiations to a single undertaking so that Round can be successfully completed and implemented to the benefit of all farmers.”

Eastland also expressed disappointment that “the text abandons West African cotton producers by failing to require the largest cotton importers to provide greater, more predictable access to their markets. This is concrete evidence that the controversy has not been about helping African farmers, but has been a concerted attack on U.S. cotton. The text provides the Least Developed Countries access to U.S. spinners, a market of six million bales annually while ignoring access to China, India and Pakistan spinning mills that consume a combined total of 70 million bales annually. Finally, the text contains no specific provisions to improve market access for U.S. cotton as the text implies that China, the largest cotton producer and importer in the world, will receive special dispensation as a recently acceded member of the WTO.”