|China to Drop Some Trade Subsidies|
The Bush administration reported that China has agreed to eliminate a number of improper trade subsidies it was using to the detriment of US and other foreign companies.
The deal, announced by US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, came after lengthy negotiations that started when the administration filed a case against China on the issue in February before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Schwab said China had agreed to eliminate WTO-illegal tax breaks that encouraged Chinese companies to export more to the United States and other countries. She said the Chinese also had agreed to scrap tax and tariff penalties that had penalized US and other foreign countries in trying to sell their goods in China.
"This outcome represents a victory for U.S. manufacturers, producers and their workers," Schwab said in a statement.
The subsidy case is one of four WTO cases the United States has filed against China in the past two years. Schwab said the negotiated settlement — hammered out by delegations from both countries meeting in Geneva — showed President Bush's trade policies were showing results and would be more successful than the retaliatory tariffs that some in Congress would like to impose on Chinese products.
"This announcement makes clear that the administration's policy of serious dialogue and resolute enforcement is delivering real results," she said. "It clearly shows the wisdom of this approach over some legislative approaches that would simply impose retaliatory tariffs."
The breakthrough in the subsidy case comes less than two weeks before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is scheduled to lead a Cabinet-level delegation to China for the third round of the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.
|Flammability Risk Option Offered|
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff released a briefing package containing a new option to address the risk of upholstered furniture flammability. This new draft standard was developed in response to comments received on a previous CPSC proposal, which expressed concerns about technical and economic feasibility, and about potential health and environmental issues associated with increased usage of flame retardant chemical additives.
According to CPSC staff, the ’07 alternative draft standard aims to achieve two basic objectives: 1) address the risk with smoldering performance tests (cigarette ignition is 90% of the problem) for cover fabrics; and 2) not to rely on flame retardant chemical treatments for filling materials or fabric.
The CPSC staff's ’07 alternative draft standard option contains strong smoldering (cigarette) ignition performance requirements for fabrics and other upholstery cover materials and these requirements are significantly more stringent than those of the existing voluntary guidelines (i.e., guidelines adopted by the Upholstered Furniture Action Council which have been in place since ’78 and most fabrics meet).
Unfortunately, these draft standards essentially address only fabrics. They no longer require the filling materials, which are the major fuel load, to meet flammability tests, as did the ’06 CPSC staff draft flammability performance standard. CPSC approaches to furniture flammability have changed several times since CPSC first started this effort in ’94 – from a focus on open-flame risk of fabrics to a focus on smolder and open-flame ignition of filling materials and now back to a focus on smolder ignition of fabric.
This new draft standard is a cotton/textile industry concern because more than 100,000 cotton bales are used in upholstery fabrics. Cotton is at a disadvantage in these draft tests because cotton fabrics either have to be treated with flame retardant chemicals or blended with at least 30% polyester to pass. Thus, if CPSC promulgates these draft standards, most likely less cotton will be used even though consumers prefer cotton upholstery fabrics.The CPSC staff plans to brief the commissioners on the new proposal on Dec. 6.
|USDA Chief Economist Retiring|
In commenting on the forthcoming retirement of USDA Chief Economist Dr. Keith Collins, NCC President/CEO Mark Lange said, “Dr. Collins’ insights and policy analysis have been of extraordinary value for all of agriculture. We appreciate his dedication to U.S. agriculture and his demonstration of the value of sound economic analyses in application to a wide array of agricultural issues."
The response follows Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner’s announcement that Collins – who has served as USDA Chief Economist for the past 15 years overseeing the agency‘s program of market forecasts and projections -- will retire on Jan. 3.
Secretary Conner said, "Dr. Keith Collins has been a cornerstone of the strength of USDA. His distinguished service to agriculture has brought incisive analysis to inform USDA decisions made on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers.”Conner said that Deputy Chief Economist Dr. Joseph Glauber will be appointed as acting chief economist. Glauber, who currently is on detail to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and serving as Special Doha Agricultural Envoy, is expected to assume the duties of chief economist full-time beginning in mid-December.
|BWCC Registration Deadline Near|
Dec. 7 is the deadline for early online registration for the ’08 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, being held Jan. 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. Industry members and others are encouraged to register online and make housing arrangements at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide/.
Registration for the forum appears to be in line or slightly ahead of previous conferences. Housing reservations appear to be ahead of normal. This is not unusual as plans around the holidays often change and reservations are cancelled as the meeting dates draw nearer. Reservations that are cancelled will result in those rooms returning to the room block. The deadline to cancel rooms and receive a full refund is Dec. 7.
Currently, the Gaylord Opryland room block is sold out on Jan. 10 and 11. Attendees may call the hotel at 615-883-2211 and ask for overflow hotel options and assistance. Better room rates can be obtained by working with the Opryland staff as opposed to contacting the overflow hotels directly.
Meanwhile, a downloadable PDF version of the final ’08 Beltwide Cotton Conferences’ program is scheduled to be available at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide/ on Dec. 3. A printed program will be available at the meetings.
Also available is the BWCC Personal Scheduler - a tool that enables attendees to plan a customized schedule, check it for conflicts, record notes and download to a personal digital assistant -- in order to maximize time at the Conferences. The tool, which can be found at http://ncc.confex.com/ncc/2008/scheduler, includes both the title and descriptions of the presentations and allows browse/search using key words.
|’08 NCC Annual Meeting Set|
The NCC’s ’08 Annual Meeting will be held at The Peabody Hotel in Memphis on Feb. 7-11. Meeting information will be posted on the NCC’s home page, www.cotton.org, on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Meeting registration and hotel reservations can be made online. Rooms also may be reserved by calling the hotel directly at 1-800-732-2639. The cut-off date for getting the convention room rate is Thursday, Jan. 10. Discounted air fare on Northwest and American Airlines is available through Travelennium, and attendees may call Mary Saemenes there at 800-844-4924, ext. 318 for price quotes.
NCC Chairman John Pucheu will address the Feb. 11 general session along with Gloria Borger, a senior political analyst for CNN who also serves as the political columnist for U.S. News and World Report. Among other important convention sessions will be the Feb. 8 American Cotton Producers meeting, where the NCC’s planting intentions survey results will be announced. On Feb. 9, the delegates will hear the NCC’s Economic Outlook. The National Cotton Ginners Assoc. also will hold its annual meeting that afternoon.The Saturday luncheon will feature Tom DeFrank, a veteran political journalist and author who has been dubbed one of the nation’s “most respected President-watchers.”
|Cotton Harvest Nearing Completion|
According to USDA’s Crop Progress report, cotton harvest as of Nov. 25 stood at 86% complete across the Cotton Belt, which is slightly ahead of the five-year pace of 80%. Harvest is reported to be complete in six states – Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Virginia. Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas report that harvest is essentially finished, with progress between 95-99%.
Harvest in the Southwest region (Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas) stands at 70% complete. Though still behind other parts of the Belt, the pace of harvest in Texas and Kansas is ahead of the five-year average.USDA’s latest estimates indicate that US farmers will produce a crop of 18.86 million bales on harvested area of 10.54 million acres. With a planted area of 10.85 million acres, the ’07 harvest represents the lowest abandonment rate in recent history.
|September Use Revised Up|
According to the Commerce Dept., the September (five-week month) estimate of domestic mill use of cotton was raised 1.4 million pounds to 232.3 million pounds. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for September is 4.85 million bales (480-lb). This is lower than last year’s September annualized rate of 5.20 million bales.
October (four-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 181.4 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.72 million bales. Last year’s October annualized rate was estimated at 5.09 million bales.Preliminary November domestic mill use of cotton and revised October figures will be released by Commerce on Dec. 20.
|Sales Surge, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending Nov. 22 were 269,400 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’07-08 sales to approximately 7.2 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’06-07 marketing year were slightly more than 5.3 million bales. Total new crop (’08-09) sales are 188,700 bales.
China continues as the largest importer of US cotton with the purchases of 1.9 million bales, or 26% of the total. Mexico and Turkey are second and third with purchase of 1.2 and 1.1 million bales, respectively. Indonesia and Thailand complete the top five importers of US cotton.Shipments for the week were 179,700 bales, bringing total exports to date to 4.2 million bales, compared with the 2.2 million bales at the comparable point in the ’06-07 marketing year.
|Prices Effective Nov. 30-Dec. 6, '07|