MEMPHIS – National Cotton Council Chairman Charles Parker commended efforts by the U.S. Trade Representative to resolve cotton trade issues with Least Developed Countries by extending duty-free, quota-free access for upland cotton and by obtaining support to continue the West African Cotton Improvement Program (WACIP).
"Cotton producers in West Africa face significant challenges even in these times of strong prices so we support the continuation of an outreach program like WACIP which can provide West African farmers an opportunity to increase their income to benefit their families and communities," Parker said. "U.S. cotton farmers are committed to continue their successful, self-funded efforts to build consumer demand on a global basis, which is benefiting cotton farmers in all countries. WACIP provides West African farmers the opportunity to enhance their productivity so they can participate in growing markets and compete with synthetic fibers."
Parker said that as a result of recent discussions with USDA, USTR and the Department of State, he will recommend that the U.S. cotton industry financially support and engage in a more structured exchange between U.S. and West African industry leaders. He said that the exchange's objectives will be to complement and support the programs carried out under WACIP and to facilitate further discussion of the many issues the U.S. and West African industries have in common -- especially market development and market access.
Parker also commented on the USTR announcement that upland cotton originating in LDCs (as defined by the United Nations) will be allowed to enter the United States duty free in keeping with commitments made during the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting. This announcement signals another step in the reforms discussed in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"We urge other major cotton producing countries to follow our lead and offer the same duty free access to the LDCs," Parker said.
The Missouri cotton producer emphasized that the U.S. cotton industry has proposed, as part of the 2012 farm bill debate, a modified domestic support program that is less trade distorting.
"The NCC also urges major cotton producing countries to promote an open and transparent system for global cotton fiber trade, by collectively removing distortions from the cotton fiber market -- which have been particularly disruptive to growers in Least Developed Countries," Parker stated.