GENEVA — Trade ministers from poor West African nations Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin and Chad said Tuesday that a recent increase in subsidies to U.S. farmers threatened to bury their cotton industry.
Ahmadou Abdoulaye Diallo, Mali’s minister of trade, said the U.S. was subsidizing 20,000 cotton farmers for about $3 billion a year or an estimated $150,000 per cotton farmer. He said Mali has three million cotton farmers and Africa has more than 20 million who are pressuring their governments for an accord to eliminate all subsidies, which he said create unfair trade.
Diallo and ministers from the other nations “did not exclude the possibility” they might follow Brazil and launch a legal case against the U.S. policy in the World Trade Organization. But he also told WWD, “If there was no acceptable deal on cotton, there would be no deal on Doha [trade talks] — we would execute our veto.”
Mamadou Sanou, Burkina Faso’s minister of commerce, told reporters the so-called Cotton 4 would not wait to see the measures “bury their cotton sector and bury all the cotton growers.” He warned the disappearance of the cotton sector would have immeasurable costs for poor African nations. “Cotton farmers would lose their jobs, their incomes, no longer be able to send their children to school or get health care,” he said, with a devastating economic impact.
The Cotton 4 ministers, along with other African trade officials, met with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk here on the sidelines of the WTO ministerial meeting intended to jump-start the stalled Doha Round aimed at reducing tariffs worldwide. The trade officials are slated to hold direct talks with Kirk today on the cotton issue, senior U.S. and African diplomats said. The African ministers said there is goodwill from the Obama administration and noted that Kirk understands their cotton problem, but stressed they need to resolve the issue soon.
African diplomats said Kirk told ministers he intends to send a U.S. mission to the Cotton 4 nations to examine the seriousness of the situation. U.S. officials point out, however, that a cotton deal is not likely to be brokered until the end game in the Doha talks.
Significant discussions still have to occur, said James Miller, U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture, noting that Congress has the mandate on cotton support and indicated cotton will probably be one of the last issues to be decided upon in the agriculture segment of the talks.
A room full of toiles at the haute couture atelier in the Dior exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs, open in Paris since July 5. This is just one of three major exhibitions that have been timed to coincide with the house's 70th anniversary. See the rest of the exhibits, plus read WWD's look into the iconic brand's history. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)
For spring, Pamplemousse's Danica Zheng presented her signature slip dresses attached to a white T-shirt along with floral windbreakers, off-the-shoulder cotton blouses and more. For more highlights from the New York trade shows, go to WWD.com. #wwdfashion
The Green Carpet Fashion Awards closed out Milan Fashion Week yesterday. The fashion industry flocked to the event, showing its efforts to support and spread the message of sustainability. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen said "if each one of us took at least one step is this direction, there is no saying how much could be done." #wwdeye #wwdfashion #mfw (📷: Lodovico Colli di Felizzano)
Etro’s show, titled “The Tree of Life,” was a celebration of the house’s 50th anniversary. “My father founded the company in 1968, which was the year of counterculture and psychedelia. It’s really a show that celebrates that and the paisley design of India and its origin,” said Veronica Etro. #wwdfashion #mfw #ss18 (📷: @delphineachard)
For @msgm’s spring 2018 show, creative director @massimogiorgetti said “Words, sounds, colors. Synthesis and therapy of a collection,” were the inspirations behind the collection, showing today. Read the rest of Milan spring 2018 inspirations on WWD.com. #mfw #wwdfashion #ss18
For her first solo album in over 10 years, Fergie tapped Carine Roitfeld, Mert and Marcus, Giovanni Bianco and more to create a fashion-focused video approach for the record, Double Dutchess. "Giovanni really helped me get back in touch with my tomboy side, my hardside," said the singer. #wwdeye #wwdfashion ( : @slovekinpics)