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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cotton: African exporters seek subsidy freeze

The US and EU should freeze trade-distorting support for cotton at current historically-low levels, West African exporting countries have argued in a WTO proposal. The proposal was discussed informally last Friday among some of the members concerned.

High prices for cotton and other commodities have caused trade-distorting subsidies to drop in recent years, as these support payments are designed to be triggered by low prices. A ‘standstill principle’ should apply to these subsidies while a negotiated solution is being reached, cotton-exporting countries in the so-called ‘C-4′ group - Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali - claim.

The proposal is included as part of a draft decision that the C-4 countries have submitted for trade ministers to agree upon at the WTO’s eighth ministerial conference, scheduled for 15-17 December. The text calls for members to implement agreements on cotton that were reached at the global trade body’s fifth ministerial conference, held six years ago in Hong Kong.

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