African countries urge WTO to save cotton sector
End to subsidies sought

African countries urge WTO to save cotton sector

/ 10:07 AM February 26, 2024

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates  African cotton-producing countries called Sunday for the WTO to find a solution to cotton trade “distortion” caused by industrial countries at the ministerial meeting opening in Abu Dhabi.

The so-called C4 countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad — called for an end to cotton subsidies for countries like the United States, India and China, which they say impacts domestic cotton prices.

“For the past 20 years, the distortions caused to cotton trade have continued to compromise the lives of millions of cotton producers in Africa”, Chad’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Ahmat Abdelkerim, told a press conference in Abu Dhabi on behalf of the C4.


The C4 also called for reparations for damages caused so far, and for the cotton issue to be removed from the agricultural dossier to move discussions forward.


Ivory Coast and the C4 submitted a draft decision on cotton to the World Trade Organization in preparation for the conference in the United Arab Emirates starting on Monday.

But the Chadian minister said this draft decision “has not been taken into account” even though cotton is important “not only for job creation, but also for food security”.

“It will contribute enormously to peace” in Africa, he added.

‘Equity and economic injustice’

The cotton sector employs more than 20 million people in the C4, and is worth $2 billion, according to Ibrahim Malloum, the Chadian representative responsible for trade issues.

“The issue is one of equity and economic justice,” added Mali’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Moussa Alassane Diallo, at the same press conference.

WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino announced Saturday that the two organisations would strengthen their partnership on cotton and called for African countries to be helped to participate in cotton value chains.


The agricultural issue is unlikely to make any headway at the WTO meeting as several countries fiercely oppose the suggested moves for fear they will disrupt global food markets.

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TAGS: Africa, cotton, unfair trade practices, WTO

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