World Trade Organization (WTO)
During meetings in Geneva, Mark Lange, the National Cotton Council president/CEO and John Maguire, the NCC's senior vice president, Washington Operations, conveyed to WTO officials and ambassadors of C4 sub-Saharan cotton-producing countries key information about the new U.S. farm law's cotton provisions. They emphasized and explained how the provisions were significantly different from previous farm laws.
While there, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Punke joined NCC leaders in a session with the ambassadors of the West African cotton-producing countries. Punke was vocal in his insistence that countries, including China, India and Brazil, report the level of their agriculture subsidy programs to the WTO as required. He urged the West African ambassadors to support his effort to promote timely reporting and transparency and to support prompt implementation of the trade facilitation program that was agreed to during the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali.
Later in the year, the NCC submitted comments to the USTR in advance of a public hearing on China's compliance with its WTO commitments. NCC Chairman Wally Darneille also testified on the NCC's behalf at the Washington, DC, hearing. His testimony called attention to the high cotton support levels maintained by China, noting that the announced target price for 2014 was more than double the current world cotton price. He stated that by its WTO Accession Protocol, China's government support to cotton is supposed to remain below 8.5 percent of the market value of production – but NCC calculations suggested that support since 2011 had ranged between 18-31 percent of the value of production. Darneille also called for U.S. officials to continue pressing China to provide timely notifications of its domestic support programs to the WTO. China had not officially notified the WTO of its farm program support since the 2008 crop.
Inspecting cotton fiber in a Chinese warehouse is Cotton Council International Chairman John Burch who led a NCC leadership team to that country to gather information from Chinese cotton industry officials and update them on key aspects of the U.S. cotton industry.
After the U.S. government announced the conclusion of the U.S.-Brazil trade dispute in the WTO, NCC Chairman Wally Darneille, in a statement, thanked the U.S. government for its efforts and reiterated that the U.S. cotton industry had undertaken extensive efforts to resolve this case and offered comprehensive reform of cotton policy as part of the new farm law. He stated, "The new U.S. farm bill includes several necessary changes to cotton policy and the GSM export credit program. When compared to previous programs, cotton policy is more market-oriented with the primary safety net conveyed through insurance products that must be purchased by the producer."
A NCC leadership team led by CCI Chairman John Burch visited China to gather information from Chinese cotton industry officials and update them on key aspects of the U.S. cotton industry. That delegation was the sixth to visit China since the establishment of the U.S.-China Cotton Leadership Exchange Program by the NCC and the China Cotton Association.
Eight U.S. cotton industry representatives went to Guangzhou, China; Seoul, Korea; and Osaka, Japan; as part of the 2014 COTTON USA Executive Delegation to discuss a variety of market and trade issues with U.S. cotton customers. The delegation hosted seminars, visited manufacturing facilities and participated in news media interviews and meetings with COTTON USA licensees. Among delegation members were: Cotton Council International Treasurer Anthony Tancredi, Bobby Walton (American Cotton Shippers Association), Carlos Garcia (AMCOT), Lee Cromley and Jon Whatley (American Cotton Producers), and Marc Lewkowitz (Supima).
After the Turkish Ministry of Economy announced it was investigating the imports of U.S. cotton to determine if "dumping" is occurring in the Turkish market, NCC staff, working with staff of the American Cotton Shippers Association and AMCOT, distributed a summary of the investigation and expected next steps to U.S. merchandizing firms. Many U.S. traders, merchants and exporters received questionnaires seeking data to enable Turkish officials to determine whether U.S. cotton was being dumped into the Turkish market, whether there was injury to Turkish cotton interests and whether the dumping was the cause of that injury.
The West Coast port labor negotiations drew the attention of the NCC which joined with multiple associations on letters to President Obama expressing concerns and asking for his help in resolving that situation.
Later, NCC Chairman Wally Darneille accompanied NCC staff to meetings with Administration officials and Congressional staff to raise the investigation's profile and communicate the serious risk to continued trade and sales of U.S. cotton to Turkey should anti-dumping duties be applied. The NCC continued its outreach to Congress and government officials on this issue until year's end, and also submitted comments to the Turkish Ministry of Economy detailing numerous concerns with the investigation.
In other trade activities, the NCC:
- Signed onto a letter with associations representing U.S. agriculture and forest products producers asking President Obama to reach out to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association to insist that they immediately restore the ports to full operation while they continued negotiations. The letter specifically asked the President to consider using all tools available to the federal government to help resolve that situation. The NCC earlier had joined a broader coalition in requesting the President's intervention.
- Joined with more than 90 agriculture organizations supporting Darci Vetter as chief agricultural negotiator for the USTR's office. She was later confirmed by the full Senate.