In testimony before the House Agriculture Committee, NCC President/CEO Gary Adams conveyed the organization’s opposition to any efforts that would further limit U.S. cotton policy at this WTO December Ministerial that was held in Nairobi, Kenya.
National Cotton Council efforts included ensuring that any Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would not undermine: 1) the U.S. textile industry and 2) a hemispheric textile trading partnership that is currently in place between the United States and countries within the Western Hemisphere. In October, the TPP's 12 countries reached an agreement after lengthy negotiations – which the NCC closely monitored. After the U.S. Trade Representative's office released the agreement's final text, the NCC reviewed the text with particular attention paid to the yarn forward rule of origin provisions.
Prior to the Senate Finance Committee approving Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) (S. 995), the NCC, working closely with the National Council of Textile Organizations, communicated to that Committee's Cotton Belt Members and urged them to oppose any damaging amendments. Among those was an amendment to extend certain expired or expiring tariff preference levels for textile/apparel products from countries already in a free trade agreement with the United States. The NCC also maintained a focus on ensuring no damaging amendments harmful to the cotton industry were added to the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (the TPA legislation approved by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees). The NCC joined 15 other agricultural and commodity organizations on a letter to the Senate Finance Committee leadership urging no amendments to the TPA bill.
The NCC, along with other agricultural industry groups, sent a letter to President Obama expressing the need for his continued engagement with China's President Xi Jinping on agricultural innovation and trade. Needs were outlined that the co-signers hoped the President would take into consideration when he met with President Xi. The letter emphasized that "in order to meet the challenges of food security around the world, we must have access to markets and innovation alike."
Prior to House passage of a reauthorization of the Export–Import Bank, the NCC joined with AMCOT, the American Cotton Shippers Association and the National Council of Textile Organizations on a letter to all Cotton Belt House Members urging reauthorization support.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the appointment of 129 private-sector members to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and to six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs). Cotton sector APAC members included cotton producers: Dale Artho, Texas; Dow Brantley, III, Ark.; and Brenda Morris, Georgia; as well as NCC President/CEO Gary Adams. Cotton sector members of the Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts ATAC included: NCC Chairman Sledge Taylor, a Mississippi producer/ginner; Michael Quinn, a North Carolina cooperative official; Harvey Schroeder, an Oklahoma producer representing the Oklahoma Cotton Council; Randy Veach, an Arkansas producer representing the Arkansas Farm Bureau; and Michelle Huffman, a NCC economist.
World Trade Organization
In testimony before the House Agriculture Committee, NCC President/CEO Gary Adams conveyed the organization's opposition to any efforts that would further limit U.S. cotton policy in the World Trade Organization's (WTO) December Ministerial in Nairobi, Kenya. He told the Committee that there have been repeated comments from numerous countries for there to be "something more" done on cotton policy at that Ministerial but that the NCC believed the actions already taken by the United States with respect to cotton policy should be more than sufficient to allow U.S. negotiators to resist further calls for concessions on cotton.
Earlier, NCC staff met with Turkey's Ministry of Economy case handlers, U.S. Embassy officials and Turkish textile groups in efforts to bring an end to the Turkish anti-dumping investigation of U.S. cotton exports to that country. Working in conjunction with the American Cotton Shippers Association and AMCOT, the NCC also remained engaged with the Administration and Congress to bring about a favorable conclusion, including coordinating statements, the sharing of strategy and the dissemination of letters. For example, Congressional Cotton Belt Members sent letters to the Administration and the Turkish Ambassador, underscoring the investigation's potential impact on their constituents' livelihoods. Another letter late in the year from Congressional Members to the Turkish Ambassador called for a prompt end to the anti-dumping investigation -- without the imposition of duties.
The NCC supported the “Port Transparency Act" because port disruptions cause textile manufacturers to slow down or stop assembly lines making just-in-time inventory like this cotton fabric difficult to manage.
In other trade activity, the NCC:
- signed on to numerous letters with other organizations to urge the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association and President Obama to swiftly conclude negotiations so that West Coast ports would resume operating at a normal schedule. A federal mediator was appointed to work with both sides and eventually an agreement was reached.
- joined other farm and business organizations on a letter in support of the "Port Transparency Act" (S. 1298) – which would provide visibility into how U.S. ports operate, establish a port performance measurement and reporting program based on sound data, and enable the responsible federal agencies to prepare meaningful annual reports on the performance and capacity of the nation's key ports. The letter noted that when a serious port disruption occurs such as the 2015 West Coast port situation, the effects are far-reaching because: 1) exporters lose customers overseas; 2) perishable products are ruined; 3) manufacturers have to slow down or stop assembly lines because just-in-time inventory becomes impossible to manage; and 4) retail goods are delayed or miss important selling seasons.