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WTO Stepping on Cotton?

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Mike

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WTO rules shouldn't single out cotton, leaders say

Jan 18, 2006 9:29 AM
By Hembree Brandon, Farm Press Editorial Staff

The continuing efforts of the World Trade Organization to single out cotton from broader agricultural negotiations is a concern for U.S. cotton, says Woods Eastland, chairman of the National Cotton Council.
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“We were extremely disappointed” with the declaration approved by participants of the WTO ministerial meeting held in Hong Kong last month, he told those attending the annual Beltwide Cotton Conferences at San Antonio, Texas.

“The council believes the declaration text is not consistent with the concept of a single undertaking for agriculture and establishes an unwise precedent for WTO trade negotiations,” said Eastland, who is president of the StaplCoton cooperative at Greenwood, Miss.

Council leadership will continue to meet with U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to assess the current text and evaluate future implications, he said.

Council leaders have been intensively involved in the WTO Doha negotiations in Washington, Geneva, and Hong Kong in efforts to reinforce the U.S. position regarding a comprehensive agricultural agreement and to insure that the U.S. cotton program isn’t singled out for separate treatment from other commodities.

“Our meetings in Geneva also provided us an opportunity to review with U.S., WTO, and West African officials the councils cooperative efforts with the USDA and US-AID in helping the Africans to address their rural quality of life and cotton production problems,” Eastland said.

Charges that small acreage cotton growers in African nations are being deprived of marketing opportunities because of government subsidies to U.S. growers has been an ongoing issue of contention in the WTO discussions.
 

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