GENEVA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — The World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo underlined the importance of cotton to many developing countries at the launch of the first World Cotton Day in Geneva on Monday, hoping to "bring together the cotton, trade and development communities to foster greater value addition and value capture in developing countries."
At a special high-level meeting at the WTO headquarters on Monday, ministers highlighted the strategic role of cotton for cotton-producing countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, known as the Cotton Four (C4), and other developing and least developed countries.
WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo lauded at the meeting cotton’s central role in livelihoods, job creation and economic stability in several least-developed countries.
He asked participants to heed the challenges faced by cotton farmers, including market access barriers, subsidies provided by some countries and supply-side challenges at home which limit the competitiveness of export-oriented processing.
According to China’s Ambassador to the WTO Zhang Xiangchen, China, as the world’s largest cotton producer and consumer, has made great contributions to the development of global cotton industry.
Cotton is a critical area that connects China-Africa cooperation, Zhang said, citing projects in Africa that have been supported by China, including Chad Demonstration Center of Agricultural Technology, Benin Textiles Company and Mali Segou Textile Mill.
Meanwhile, China has actively worked together with Africa for human capacity building on cotton, Zhang said. In year 2017 and 2018, China altogether held eight training courses on cotton planting, processing and trading.
As cotton is an important topic and C4’s priority in the agriculture negotiations, the Chinese ambassador said that China always attaches great importance to cotton negotiations, and will continue to play a constructive role and work together with other WTO members with a view to reaching meaningful outcomes on cotton.
Initiated by the C4, the World Cotton Day was established to celebrate all aspects of cotton, from its qualities as a natural fiber to the benefits people obtain from its production, transformation, trade and consumption. The event is intended to shed light on the challenges faced by the cotton sector around the world, and particularly in least-developed countries.