WTO: 2005 NEWS ITEMS
22 March 2005
WTO COTTON SUB-COMMITTEE
Members start work, looking at farm talks and development aspects of cotton
The Cotton Sub-Committee heard updates on the agriculture talks and development aspects of cotton, getting down to substance after it swiftly adopted its work programme at its second meeting on 22 March 2005.
THIS NEWS ITEM IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WTO. WHILE EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE ACCURATE, IT DOES NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS’ POSITIONS. THE OFFICIAL RECORD IS IN THE MEETING’S MINUTES]
Reports from the Secretariat on development aspects of cotton, and
from the IMF, UNCTAD and EU on their development activities sparked a brief
debate on how development assistance could best be used to help recipient
countries adjust while also working on reducing trade distortions through
the agriculture negotiations.
This was approved swiftly, ending debates over some of the details and allowing the sub-committee to plunge into substance. The work programme essentially reflects the 1 August 2004 framework as it relates to cotton and agriculture.
Progress in the agriculture negotiations
One of the sub-committee’s tasks is to assess this. Chairperson Groser
reported on progress in the talks, particularly as relevant to cotton.
Amb.Groser also noted that the recent G-20 ministerial declaration also
referred to cotton.
Benin, the African Group (Rwanda speaking), Paraguay, the least-developed countries (Zambia speaking), said that they looked forward to progress on substance. Several said the WTO’s credibility depends on a good outcome. The African Group said it would soon submit its own proposals.
For the WTO Secretariat, Mr Chiedu Osakwe, director of the DDA Special
Duties Division, updated members on latest developments. He outlined latest
activities of the OECD, EU, US and African Development Bank, reporting that
the development track is on-going work that is working well, with
significant further progress having been made since the WTO
December 2004 report.
The IMF, UNCTAD and EU also reported on their activities. The EU went into some detail on programmes for the region, for cotton, and for individual countries.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Senegal noted that what the Africans were seeking was a fair market for their products so that they can “live from the products of our own hands”. They said agencies such as the World Bank had advocated privatisation, but without funding for adjustment and training “reform for reform’s sake” would yield nothing. “The manner of giving is more important than what is given,” Senegal said.
Ambassador Groser noted that both the EU and Benin gave priority to
progressing on the trade front. He said it is “inconceivable” that there
will be a result in the agriculture negotiations without serious reform in
domestic support and cotton. Therefore ultimately the work in the
sub-committee and in the agriculture negotiations will be brought together,
he predicted, and development assistance will be needed to help countries
He also observed that the WTO’s role is to create “opportunities”, not “trade outcomes”, but countries sometimes need help to make use of the opportunities. The African proponents (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali) are not asking for preferences but for assistance to make use of the system, he said.
28 April 2005
Amb.Tim Groser of New Zealand, who also chairs the agriculture negotiations.