Putting cotton back on the table

Scott Tong Oct 25, 2006
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Putting cotton back on the table

Scott Tong Oct 25, 2006
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LISA NAPOLI: Ever since July, the global trade talks known as the Doha Round have been put on ice, but developing countries are doing what they can to get them going again. Today a group of African ministers visits Washington to talk cotton — or more specifically, cotton subsidies. Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.


SCOTT TONG: The African trade officials meet with their US counterparts today and then they hit a global cotton conference, hosted by a think tank called the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council.

Charlotte Hebebrand is CEO.

CHARLOTTE HEBEBRAND: The key difficult for the African producers is that prices are much, much lower than they were, for example, in the ’90s.

A big reason is US subsidies: $4 billion go to domestic growers a year and that jacks up production and pulls down prices.

Critics say the subsidies hurt the developing world and that they’re illegal. The World Trade Organization has ruled the US policy distorts free trade.

HEBEBRAND: The case has shown that US ag policy is vulnerable to these types of WTO challenges.

And more challenges are on the way.

So the choice for the US is to come to the bargaining table and phase out subsidies or keep facing litigation.

In Washington, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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