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African nations propose duty-free treatment for their cotton.

Four African countries have proposed that their cotton exports receive duty-free, quota-free market access to other markets by 2015 and an immediate end to any export subsidies for cotton in developed countries. The quartet of Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad and Mali also wants a decision on how to cut domestic support for cotton by the end of 2014, under a plan submitted to World Trade Organization members recently.

The so-called "Cotton Four" want the proposal to be agreed upon at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in December, where members are hoping to reach a partial multilateral trade deal under the Doha Round.

The countries are seeking duty-free, quota-free market access for cotton from least developed countries in January 2015, the elimination of all remaining export subsidies in developed countries as soon as possible and also an agreement on how to reduce domestic support for cotton by the end of next year, sources said.

WTO members already have agreed to cut distorting subsidies for cotton by more than the reductions on other agricultural products, but have not yet agreed on how exactly to achieve this.

More development assistance for cotton and more regular monitoring of the global cotton trade are also called for in the Cotton Four proposal.

The four have long argued that cotton subsidies in richer countries have caused serious damage to their own production and have called for compensation for the economic losses as long as subsidies remain in developed nations.

They now hope the new proposal can be agreed at the forthcoming WTO summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Dec. 3-6. Intense talks are ongoing on three agriculture-based issues, which it is also hoped can be included in a partial deal at the summit.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Date:Nov 4, 2013
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