DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL JEAN-MARIE PAUGAM

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Distinguished Minister of Commerce of Burkina Faso, Mr. Harouna KABORE, Coordinator of the Cotton-4 Group,
Distinguished Ms Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of ITC,
Distinguished Ambassador Dieudonné Sougouri, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the WTO, and Coordinator of the Cotton-4 Group,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Cotton Community,
Bonjour à toutes et à tous.

Today's event is very special. It is not only an opportunity for us to celebrate World Cotton Day 2021 together. It is also the first such occasion since the United Nations General Assembly adopted an important resolution proclaiming 7 October — tomorrow — as an official international day for cotton.

Cotton is more than just a fibre that's used to make our clothes. It is also a means of subsistence for millions of people who work in the extensive cotton value chain, and for their families.

So the UN's official recognition of an international day for cotton is primarily a recognition of all the men and women who derive their livelihoods from cotton production, processing, transformation and commercialization. That means everyone from the cotton farms all the way through to shops and retailers across the globe.

We're convinced that the UN resolution on World Cotton Day will lead to concrete results that improve people's well-being and ensure a sustainable future.

The resolution calls for annual celebrations — but also serves as an important reminder that much more can be achieved, especially for farmers and other people working in the cotton sector in Africa.

Notably, the resolution reaffirms the relevance of the sectoral Cotton Initiative launched at the World Trade Organization in 2003 by the C-4 countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali.  This initiative sought “to improve market access opportunities for cotton and cotton-related products from least developed countries”. It also aimed “to substantially reduce any trade-distorting effects of undue measures in international cotton trade”. And it endeavoured “to intensify discussions on factors negatively impacting cotton trade and markets.” All these goals remain vitally important today.

So trade policy reforms that improve how cotton markets function are key — but development assistance is too. The resolution reaffirms “the importance of development assistance programmes and efforts to improve cotton production capacity in developing countries, in order to foster their cotton supply chain industries”. As such, it reminds us of that developing countries can gain from tailor-made research, training, technology transfer, and much-needed investment.

With this in mind, I would like to remind us all of the unique role played by the WTO Director-General's Consultative Framework Mechanism on Cotton (DGCFMC). This allows beneficiaries, development agencies and relevant international organizations to meet, push for advances in development assistance programmes, and share precious information.

Before opening our discussion, I would like to remind us all that the cotton, textiles and clothing sectors have historically been vitally important in the industrial, economic and social development of many countries that invested in the cotton value chain.

Their experiences have also shown us the contribution that these sectors also generated spillover effects which benefitted other sectors of their economies.

Today, the sector faces new challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of climate change, and changing consumer preferences.

In this context, the cotton sector has a crucial role to play in advancing Agenda 2030 and making a concrete contribution towards progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

And in our programme today, high-level speakers and leading experts will share their vision for how a stronger and more sustainable cotton value chain in Africa can become a reality.

Without any further ado, I would therefore like to thank you for your participation today and wish you all a fruitful and insightful event.

Vive le coton ! Vive la Journée mondiale du coton ! Merci à tous.

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