DG Azevêdo recognized the centrality of the cotton issue for the C4 – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali – as well as other WTO members, and briefed the Prime Minister on the latest state of play in the negotiations. He said the Prime Minister's presence in Geneva sends a strong message to members on the need to address the issue expeditiously.
DG Azevêdo noted several initiatives in favour of African cotton exporters, including the 2015 Nairobi Decision on Export Competition, under which developed countries agreed to immediately eliminate export subsidies for cotton and developing countries to do so by 1 January 2017. He also referred to the assistance Mali has received through the WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative.
DG Azevêdo also noted the WTO and the International Trade Centre will be launching in Buenos Aires a new Cotton Portal, which will provide a one-stop shop for all market intelligence on cotton products. "We've done a lot, but there's still a lot more to do," he added.
Prime Minister Maïga said the cotton issue was important not only for the C4 countries but for all developing countries. He expressed satisfaction with the Director-General's efforts on the matter and stressed that the group would continue to push for an agreement which delivers concrete results for African cotton producers.
Prime Minister Maïga also spoke to members at a meeting of the WTO's General Council on 30 November. He said it was time for members to "seize the opportunity" offered by the 11th Ministerial Conference to find an appropriate response to the cotton issue, and to address other development concerns of members.