U.S. supports eliminating duties on West African cotton
The United States has signaled its support to eliminate import duties on West African cotton.
“I will just say that the U.S. is willing, under the duty-free/quota-free commitments we will make, to provide duty-free access for cotton from these West African countries,” said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman during a press conference Thursday at the World Trade Organization Ministerial in Hong Kong. “And we are hopeful to have some kind of resolution this week.”
The United States has been criticized by many WTO members, especially Africa, for maintaining high tariffs and subsidies to support American cotton farmers.
However, Portman said there is the “need for all countries, not just the United States, to provide better access for the cotton from West Africa.”
Portman pointed out that some countries maintain higher tariffs than the United States. “Some tariffs have bound rates as high as 100 percent,” he said.
“Effective rates are lower, but there is an opportunity here to reduce these barriers in the United States and elsewhere to provide some of the answers to the dilemma that the West African cotton growers face, in addition to subsidies and in addition to higher productivity,” Portman said.