Cotton Subcommittee Must Enhance Goal of Comprehensive Agreement
NCC Chairman Woody Anderson said he hoped the creation of a subcommittee to monitor trade policy and trade developments in cotton would not be turned into a sideshow that will take away from the overall goal of comprehensive agricultural trade reform.
MEMPHIS – National Cotton Council Chairman Woody Anderson said today he hoped the creation of a subcommittee to monitor trade policy and trade developments in cotton would not be turned into a sideshow that will take away from the overall goal of comprehensive agricultural trade reform.
"The Framework calls for a comprehensive agreement involving all three pillars of trade policy affecting agriculture - domestic support, export subsidies and market access,” Anderson said. “A comprehensive agreement on agriculture will lead to reforms by all Members in all commodities across all three pillars. The U.S. cotton industry supports a comprehensive agreement; we cannot support an inequitable approach to the agriculture negotiations that seeks to single out our industry unfairly.
"It would be a serious error for the subcommittee on cotton to become another tool for self-serving non-governmental organizations to target the U.S. cotton program to the exclusion of all other trade policies that impact world agricultural trade and those that impact trade in cotton products, such as textiles and apparel. Singling out one country or one commodity is counter-productive to the Doha goal of obtaining a comprehensive agreement in agriculture."
The Texas cotton producer also expressed concern with certain inflammatory statements issued by the Ambassador from Benin to the WTO negotiations. The Benin representative to the WTO was quoted as saying the U.S. should live up to the "spirit of a deal" with poor countries and remove its subsidies on cotton.
Anderson said the Framework Agreement "did not obligate the United States or any other country to end any specific domestic agricultural program. There appears to be an attempt by certain individuals and organizations to maneuver the U.S. cotton program into the front of the train that is the Doha round of trade negotiations. I am dismayed that our efforts to work with several West African countries to enhance the returns available to their producers have gone unnoticed by these individuals. I trust that the sentiments of this one representative are not shared by other countries that better understand the economic forces at work in the world cotton market.
"Despite repeated economic studies showing that the claims of huge losses from the U.S. cotton program are grossly overstated, there continue to be efforts to inflame this issue. We have shown African officials dramatic yield, environmental and quality of life improvements available to them through adoption of improved production and processing techniques and through the adoption of biotechnology - returns that greatly exceed the two percent price change that recent studies by Texas Tech and FAO estimate would result from the elimination of the U.S. cotton program."
NCC CEO Mark Lange said that "in 2004, production worldwide will be at record levels, caused by good weather and other countries increasing cotton acreage at about twice the rate of the United States. As 2004 attests, even modest price increases can cause countries outside the United States to significantly increase acreage, dampening every price rebound. The problems in world cotton markets are not caused by the United States cotton program. A comprehensive agricultural agreement and cooperation, both bilaterally with the United States and through the WTO, can offer true improvements for West African producers."