Cotton trade: The road not taken

In preparazione della Ministeriale della WTO di Bali (Dicembre 2013), si ricomincia a parlare di cotone e volano le promesse per i Paesi più poveri. Uno sguardo disincantato dall’Africa ci racconta successi e insuccessi dell’iniziativa lanciata a Doha


By Adam Sneyd     

Africa’s cotton producers need to re-think their approach to trade inequalities, with compensation mechanisms through the WTO – such as those offered by the US to Brazil – offering a positive route

Ten years ago, several of Africa’s leading cotton exporting countries took an historic stand against protectionism at the World Trade Organisation. Evidence had mounted that lavish cotton subsidy systems in the US and Europe were undermining the livelihoods of Africa’s cotton farmers. Leading research indicated that these subsidies had induced a global cotton supply glut. Faced with low world prices, African exporters took action.

Their strategy differed significantly from Brazil’s depression-era approach to capturing higher export prices for coffee. Cotton-dependent governments in Africa did not conspire to burn, bury or otherwise ‘disappear’ their crop. They also did not take Brazil’s contemporary approach to addressing the cotton problem. Instead of initiating a trade dispute…

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