MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council is alarmed by the draft modalities text issued today by Crawford Falconer, the chairman of the WTO agricultural negotiations. Falconer’s draft text includes the inequitable, cotton-specific language tabled by the C-4 countries. The NCC made it clear to the Administration last month that if the draft modalities contained the C-4 cotton proposal, the cotton industry would have to re-evaluate its position on the Doha negotiations and on a possible extension of trade promotion authority.
Over the last three years, the U.S. cotton industry has worked with the U.S. government and with the WTO to focus program delivery that met developmental goals and objectives for West African cotton-producing countries. These programs, when combined with a substantive, equitable outcome on agricultural support in the Doha negotiations, would improve the economic condition of the West African cotton industry.
The NCC clearly demonstrated that eliminating U.S. cotton subsidies will not provide a solution for the economic plight of West African cotton producers. Similar evidence has been presented to the C-4, the WTO and attendees of numerous development conferences by disinterested third parties.
Chairman Falconer appears to believe that singling out cotton will encourage developing countries to support this package. This targeting of a specific commodity should concern all Doha Round participants. The WTO’s handling of the cotton issue seems to demonstrate that the organization can be taken hostage by a small, select set of interests that unfairly target a specific sector of another member’s economy.
The new agriculture text makes it clear that if a Doha Round is agreed to, U.S. agricultural policy will be written in Geneva, not in Washington. The newly-issued text would reach deep into U.S. agricultural policy and dictate to the U.S. Congress how they must write farm programs.
The NCC urges the U.S. Administration to strongly oppose the cotton-specific language contained in this draft and not to accept any set of modalities or any agreement that contains similar language. Without this type of assurance, the U.S. cotton industry will undoubtedly oppose any extension of Trade Promotion Authority.