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    Call for fair play in the cotton industry


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3-4/2008 

    Six trade ministers of African countries dependent on cotton exports have called for fair play in the international trade of cotton and for rich countries to close the gap between pledges and delivery of aid to the African cotton sector while outstanding trade issues are worked out.

    Trade ministers from three of the so-called African "Cotton Four" countries - Benin, Chad and Mali - attended the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General's Multi-stakeholder Meeting on Cotton in December. Also present were ministers from Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal and Zimbabwe. The Cotton Four nations, which also include Burkina Faso, depend on this agricultural commodity for 30% to 60% of their exports.

    UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the meeting that "The phase-out of the Multifibre Agreement from 2004 led to production shifts to low-cost locations" such as Africa. That opportunity should be seized, he said. "That is why it is so important at this point in time to eliminate trade-distorting measures and market-access barriers." He said another major issue involved in boosting developing country cotton exports is improving the competitiveness of such nations.

    See: www.unctad.org