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China to support C4 countries on cotton production

12-15-2011 08:45 BJT

GENEVA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- China and the group of four major African cotton producing countries (C4) announced Wednesday a joint program in Geneva aimed at supporting C4's cotton production through technical and financial assistance over the next few years.

The program, which came one day ahead of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, was jointly announced by the Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and trade ministers or representatives from C4 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali.

Cooperation between the two sides will include technology transfer, technical assistance in researches, provision of seeds, agricultural machinery, fertilizers and pesticides, funding of training projects, as well as exchanges of experience.

"In longer term, we may relocate some of the textile and apparel industry into Africa," Chen told the press, noting that there are already cases of such relocation.

Despite China itself being a big cotton-growing country with approximately 30 million people engaged in the cultivation of cotton, producing more than 7 million tons of cotton per year, the country barely exports any cotton, but rather import from international markets.

"China's cotton market has always been open to C4 countries," Chen said, adding the new program represents a concrete action in "aid for trade" and another step forward in promoting development as stipulated by the Doha Development Agenda.

"Only when the economy of Africa which has a population of one billion develops, can the world economy really improve," he said.

For many western and central African countries, cotton is an important export product that generates incomes worth five to 10 percents of their GDP, supporting the livelihood of millions. Among these countries, C4 alone accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world's cotton exports.

However, as the Chadian Minister of Commerce and Industry Mahat Allhou Taher has pointed out, internationally, huge subsidies on cotton production, most of which come from developed countries, have undermined the competitiveness of African cottons.

"C4 countries have engaged in a battle in WTO to restore competitiveness of African cotton so as to support the population, " Taher said, adding that China's support would play an important role in C4's future cotton negotiations at the WTO.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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