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Members mark 10th year of WTO monitoring of cotton development assistance, trade trends


Members mark 10th year of WTO monitoring of cotton development assistance, trade trends

        At the WTO’s cotton days, the major milestones achieved in the past ten years in monitoring cotton development assistance were welcomed by members and the Cotton 4 — Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali. Members also took stock of progress over ten rounds of dedicated discussions on cotton trade. Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff underscored the dynamic and project-focused approach that underpins WTO work on cotton development assistance. Ambassador Ford of Guyana recalled trade achievements which “demonstrate members’ determination and ability to deliver results on cotton”.
           Cote d'Ivoire attended the cotton days for the first time as a Cotton 4 (C4) observer country following its application for observer status at the C4 ministerial meeting in N'Djamena, Chad.
          At the two-day meeting, known as the WTO “cotton days”, WTO members discussed both the latest developments in cotton trade and the assistance provided to developing countries. At the end of the two days, WTO members endorsed the joint initiative of the WTO, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) to enhance the economic potential of cotton by-products.
                                                                          Development assistance

       According to the latest version of the Director-General's Evolving Table on Cotton Development Assistance (WT/CFMC/6/Rev.25, 15 November 2018) prepared by the WTO Secretariat to keep record of all cotton-related development assistance projects, 29 active cotton-specific projects have been recorded, benefiting 32 countries. This reflects an increase in development assistance in this area. Three new projects were recorded from GIZ-Germany and Switzerland. This is the 10th year that the evolving table exists in its current form (see flyer).
         Members examined the Cotton 4’s "Cotton Roadmap Project" (WT/CFMC/W/73 and presentation by Amb. Laourou), including two country-specific projects from Mali and one from Benin. The Cotton 4 selected Mali to carry out two new pilot projects to address high soil acidity and improve yields. If successful, the model will be replicated in other countries. Benin proposed a project looking at the possibility of improving organic matter in soils by introducing more diversified crops. The estimated cost will be evaluated on a country-by-country basis.
          The Brazilian Cooperation Agency presented its activities on cotton. Since 2015, Brazil has started a new trend of working with international organizations, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization to assist African countries in the development of the cotton sector. Thirty-six projects have been implemented, mostly in Africa and Latin America, and various new technical missions will start in December 2018.
                                             Business sheds lights on how to tap into the cotton markets

         Since the Cotton Day meeting of June 2018, the Consultative Mechanism has taken a pragmatic approach by bringing the private sector into the discussion. This time Mr Ryota Karube, President of the Japanese trading company Toyoshima Inc., introduced its business model and its role in linking African cotton producers to the international market. Toyoshima called for African farmers to build relations with trading companies and stressed the importance of developing strategies to exploit the increasing consumer-driven opportunities offered by cotton such as the Better Cotton Initiative and Cotton made in Africa.
           Emphasizing the ministerial mandate on cotton development assistance, DDG Wolff, Chair of the Consultative Mechanism on behalf of Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, underlined the importance of "effective assistance" and invited beneficiaries to "continue identifying their needs linked to cotton or related sectors, including on a regional basis".

                                                   Discussions on cotton policies and negotiation prospects

           WTO members noted that the WTO cotton initiative, launched in 2003, has seen many historic moments over the past ten years, including:
• the 2013 Bali Ministerial Decision on Cotton, which introduced “dedicated discussions” twice a year for WTO members to address the trade-related developments that underpin cotton negotiations
• the 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Cotton, which committed members to abolish agricultural export subsidies for cotton as of 1 January 2017, with developed members and developing members with the capacity to do so agreeing to grant duty-free and quota-free market access for exports of cotton and cotton-related products from least-developed countries
• the launch of a joint WTO/ITC cotton portal at the 2017 Buenos Aires Ministerial Conference, with the aim of helping cotton producers, traders and policymakers better harness market opportunities in the cotton sector.

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