National Cotton Council Chairman Jay Hardwick and Vice Chairman Eddie Smith – on behalf of the U.S. cotton industry — commended U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the entire U.S. delegation for defending U.S. agriculture’s interests during the recent World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva.
In their letter to Ambassador Kirk, the two cotton producer leaders told Kirk that he and his team demonstrated a keen understanding of the fundamental issue before the countries that were attempting to negotiate a Doha Round agreement. That premise is — there is simply not enough additional market access into developing country markets in the existing negotiating texts, and without significant gains in agricultural market access, it is impossible for U.S. agriculture to find any benefit to a Doha Round.
In a speech today to the Texas Cotton Producers meeting in Lubbock, NCC Vice President Craig Brown said the letter noted Smith’s visit with Kirk in April when Smith, a Floydada, Tex., producer, emphasized the significant changes that have occurred in the world cotton market since 2005. Those changes demonstrate clearly that the United States and West Africa have both suffered from production increases, market barriers, and new subsidies instituted by the three fastest growing cotton economies — Brazil, India and China.
Today’s NCC letter to Ambassador Kirk also pointed out that even though the C-4 West African cotton producing countries warned in Geneva that they might file a dispute settlement action against the United States, the NCC encourages those countries to re-evaluate who is actually distorting world cotton trade and work with the United States as it attempts to help reform the West African cotton production infrastructure; and obtain meaningful market access from the largest cotton users in the world.
“In the face of continued, but unwarranted, criticisms of U.S. cotton policies, you appropriately pointed out that West Africa must first address their own internal production and marketing inefficiencies,” the NCC leaders stated. “In addition, the cotton-producing countries in West Africa should align themselves with the United States in the push for reduced import trade barriers in key importing countries.”
Outside the letter, the NCC reiterates that in 2009, China, India and Brazil collectively produced 61 million bales of cotton – 9 million more bales than in 2005. Meanwhile, United States cotton production is just 12.5 million bales – down more than 11 million bales since 2005.
Hardwick said U.S. cotton producers are struggling similarly to West African cotton producers. Instead of focusing on the past, “I encourage the West African cotton industry to review current economic data,” he said. “Then, they would reach the inescapable conclusion that a WTO dispute process probably needs to be undertaken, but that dispute should be filed against India, China and Brazil.”