The World Trade Organization trade negotiations ended Sunday without progress toward a framework for further talks. Disagreements ranged from topics such as investment, transparency and government procurement to antitrust policy, trade facilitation and agricultural subsidies.
National Cotton Council Chairman Robert W. Greene, a Courtland, Ala., ginner, expressed his appreciation to Ambassador Zoellick and his staff for their determination to ensure a good agreement.
"The National Cotton Council's position has been that a bad agreement would bring substantial damage to the entire U.S. cotton industry," Greene said. "Ambassador Zoellick provided extraordinary leadership to the U.S. negotiating team. We are grateful that the USTR made bold initiatives in an effort to continue the talks and yet was unwilling to yield principles in order to get an agreement."
Greene said that the global cotton textile and apparel market is rampant with market-distorting practices and suffers from huge increases in subsidized polyester production capacity across Asia. Focusing exclusively on raw cotton subsidies, he noted, would have failed to address most of the concerns of the cotton producing developing world.
Four African countries submitted a proposal that called for the elimination of the U.S. cotton program within three years after the completion of the Doha Round of WTO talks. The round takes its name from the city in Qatar where the latest negotiations began two years ago.
Zoellick attempted to persuade the four nation's leaders to broaden the proposal to include tariffs on textile products, but the effort never went beyond the talking stage.
NCC President and CEO Mark Lange said, "The U.S. cotton industry commends the efforts of the U.S. negotiating team, led by Ambassador Zoellick and including Ambassador Allen Johnson, USDA Secretary Ann Veneman and Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services J.B. Penn. Their skill and determination ensured that the meeting would not result in a bad deal for U.S. agriculture."