World Trade Organization
Early in 2011, NCC Chairman Charles Parker, joined by NCC President/CEO Mark Lange and NCC Senior Vice President John Maguire, discussed World Trade Organization (WTO) activities with Agricultural Trade Ambassador Isi Siddiqui of the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Siddiqui told them that some in Geneva were still pushing for a so-called "early harvest" on cotton.
Agricultural Trade Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, right, of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office provided a WTO activities update for NCC President/CEO Mark Lange and other NCC leaders.
The NCC group also discussed trade issues with Darci Vetter, deputy undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Vetter, who has represented USDA in the development and implementation of the Brazil-U.S. Framework Agreement, reported that U.S. officials travelled to Brazil in early March for a meeting that focused on the formation of the Brazil Cotton Institute and use of the annual U.S. funds provided under the Framework agreement.
Following reports that an early harvest for cotton could be a potential WTO Doha Round December 2011 ministerial deliverable, Lange and Maguire met with Administration officials and Congressional staff. They conveyed the industry's opposition to any proposals that include cotton in a scaled-back December package. In meetings with Vetter, USTR Assistant Trade Representative Sharon Bomer and U.S. Trade Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke, the NCC staffers stressed that cotton only can be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement encompassing all of agriculture. Following the meetings, Ambassador Punke declared that, "If people wish to discuss cotton, everyone's cotton programs must be on the table."
Late in the year, Lange and Maguire visited with key trade officials in Geneva ahead of the next WTO ministerial in mid-December. They met again with Punke then were briefed by a number of WTO agricultural staff. They also had individual meetings with a number of WTO officials, including Deputy Director General Harsha Singh, Accessions Division Director Chediu Osakwe and Keith Rockwell, director of Information and External Communications. In addition, their visits included sessions with Nicholas Imboden, executive director of the Ideas Center; and Ralf Peters, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Lange and Maguire also met with John Adank, New Zealand's ambassador expected to be elected as the new chairman of the WTO Doha Round agriculture negotiations.
In another session, Lange and Maguire met with Yi Xiaozhun, China's ambassador to the WTO, and Zhao Weining, the counselor for China – and stressed the need for greater transparency and market access. In a meeting with Amit Yadav, India's counselor to the WTO, Lange and Maguire discussed the damage to the world cotton market caused by disruptive export bans.
Free Trade Agreements
The NCC issued a statement welcoming the news that the enabling legislation necessary for Congress to approve the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was formally transmitted to Congress – saying the U.S. cotton industry urges immediate approval of the legislation by the House and Senate. The statement noted that NCC members consistently have expressed support for Congressional approval of the FTA with Colombia, which was signed in 2006. The House and Senate eventually approved the legislation necessary to implement free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and Korea, and President Obama subsequently signed the legislation.
Under the U.S.-China Cotton Leadership Exchange Program established by the NCC and the China Cotton Association, eight Chinese cotton industry leaders visited the U.S. Cotton Belt to learn more about the U.S. cotton industry.
Eight Chinese cotton industry leaders visited the U.S. Cotton Belt to learn more about the U.S. cotton industry. The China Cotton Association (CCA) executive delegation's visit the U.S. was the third since the establishment of the U.S.-China Cotton Leadership Exchange Program by the NCC and the CCA. The exchange between the two countries was established by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2006 that promised cooperation between the countries' cotton industries.
In other trade activities, the NCC:
- joined commodity and livestock organizations in urging the Senate to confirm Michael Punke and Isi Siddiqui to serve as deputy U.S. Trade Representative and USTR ambassador/chief agricultural negotiator, respectively.
- complimented an Administration initiative to streamline and make government more efficient, but cautioned against making changes that would undermine the effectiveness of agencies including the Foreign Agricultural Service and the office of U.S. Trade Representative.
- welcomed the successful mark-up of the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2011 by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee – stating that, "The U.S. cotton industry is pleased to see an opportunity for its textile customers to expand exports of value-added products containing U.S. cotton, with the resulting benefits to our nation's farm income and job creation."
- applauded the appointments by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to the Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee:Sledge Taylor, a Como, MS, producer/ginner who serves as NCC secretary/treasurer; John Mitchell, a Cordova, TN, merchant who serves as Cotton Council International president; Kenneth Dierschke, a San Angelo, TX, producer and Texas Farm Bureau Federation president; Dale Artho, a Wildorado, TX, producer; Mike Quinn, a Garner, NC, cooperative official; Harvey Shroeder, executive director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council, Frederick; and Michelle Huffman, a NCC economist, Memphis, TN.