World Trade Organization
Early in the year, President Bush said he would make the “successful” conclusion of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round negotiations a top priority. The NCC remained diligent in monitoring those talks, which were launched six years ago.
NCC Chairman Larry McClendon called on USDA to provide U.S. agriculture with a clear analysis of exactly what gains U.S. agriculture could expect in market access under the draft negotiating texts proposed by WTO Agricultural Negotiations Chairman Crawford Falconer.
The NCC joined 40 other U.S. agricultural organizations in letters to President Bush and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reaffirming that an acceptable Doha text must have equal ambition in domestic disciplines and increased market access.
In advance of a July ministerial, the NCC joined 12 other agricultural organizations on a letter to President Bush expressing continuing deep concern about the status and direction of the Doha Round agricultural negotiations. The letter reiterated a call for any agreement that does not deliver a balanced result should be rejected by U.S. negotiators. The ministerial failed to produce final negotiating texts or modalities for the Doha Round, thus the United States did not table a specific cotton proposal.
When talk of convening another ministerial in December began circulating, the NCC generated columns that appeared in Farm Press publications. The columns pointed out the flaws in the text that was being proposed by WTO Director Pascal Lamy, and included a summary of a NCC analysis that showed how exemptions for “Special Products” in that text could dramatically undermine potential market access gains.
Brazil-U.S. Cotton Case
Early in 2008, the NCC conveyed in a letter to USTR Susan Schwab its disappointment in a WTO compliance panel ruling in the Brazil-U.S. cotton case. The NCC argued that the Panel’s ruling did not adequately consider the changes that had been made in the U.S. cotton program subsequent to the initial WTO ruling and did not appropriately consider the existing world cotton market situation.
Later, the NCC praised the USTR’s Office for filing a notice of appeal in that case – and NCC Chairman McClendon expressed hope that the appeal would lead to better clarity in the WTO panel decisions.
Unfortunately, a WTO Appellate Body upheld the compliance panel’s earlier report against the U.S. Export Credit Guarantee program and certain aspects of the U.S. cotton program. The NCC joined the USTR in conveying disappointment in the findings. In a statement, Chairman McClendon noted that expenditures under the cotton program had fallen dramatically; U.S. cotton acreage was down; international cotton acreage was up; and world cotton prices were up and – “I don’t see how anyone examining the current structure of the world cotton market could accuse the United States of suppressing world cotton prices.”
After Brazil notified the WTO that it was seeking authorization for retaliation, the NCC issued a statement vowing it would work with the USTR to rebut Brazil’s claims that the U.S. cotton program has caused economic damage to international cotton markets.
2008 NCC Vice Chairman Jay Hardwick, far left in back, led a NCC leadership team visit to China that enabled the group to learn more about that country’s cotton infrastructure, its standards, marketing practices, policies and their overall raw cotton needs.
A NCC leadership team’s visit to China enabled the group to learn more about that country’s cotton infrastructure, its standards, marketing practices, policies and their overall raw cotton needs. This information is proving invaluable in helping U.S. cotton continue to supply the type of fiber and service this rapidly growing country requires.
NCC Vice Chairman Jay Hardwick led the delegation, which included producers John Lindamood, C.B. “Chuck” Coley, and Eddie Smith; warehousemen Trent Felton and Dean Church; ginner, Sid Brough; merchant, Cameron Austin; and cooperative official, Jarral Neeper. NCC Vice President Gary Adams accompanied the group. The visit, coordinated by Cotton Council International, built on previous China cotton industry familiarization and information exchange trips in 2006 and 2007.
The NCC also joined onto a letter urging Cotton Belt House members to co-sign a letter to President Bush from the Congressional Textile Caucus urging more effective enforcement of U.S. trade laws with respect to China and to prevent further U.S. manufacturing job losses.
The International Trade Commission announced it would monitor certain textile and apparel imports from China.
The NCC joined 10 textile and fiber industry trade associations and the labor union, UNITE HERE, on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and USTR Susan Schwab asking for a broadened “Textile Monitoring Program” to cover U.S. textile and apparel imports from China beginning on January 1, 2009. Shortly afterwards, the International Trade Commission announced it would monitor certain textile and apparel imports from China at the request of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY).
In other trade activities, the NCC:
- contacted Cotton Belt Senators asking them to join Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in urging prompt passage of an extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which was scheduled to expire on February 29, 2008; and
- urged Congress to approve a 10-month extension of the Andean trade preferences program to avoid disruption in trade in fiber, yarn, textile and apparel products between the United States and Andean countries.