If the Doha Round of WTO negotiations is revived in coming weeks, यू.एस. cotton programs will be a critical part of the debate. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy speaking to a United Nations Committee on Trade and Development cotton meeting on December 2nd said, "…cotton has become a litmus test of the commitment to make the WTO Doha Round of global trade negotiations a truly development round.He further stated, “Developed countries, US and EC in particular, have to slash the trade-distorting subsidies they give to their cotton producers.

This attention to cotton is not a surprise. The framework for talks agreed to in 2004 created a Cotton Subcommittee within the Agriculture Committee to address concerns of African cotton producing countries. Cotton was to be “addressed ambitiously, expeditiously, and specifically, within the agriculture negotiations.The Ministerial Declaration from the WTO meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005 endorsed the 2004 agreement and mentioned specific actions including providing larger reductions in trade distorting subsidies for cotton than the general formula for agriculture with implementation over a shorter time period.

The negotiations text from Agriculture Committee Chairman Crawford Falconer released on July 10 of this year had specific language on cotton that had not yet been agreed to by the full committee. It included a formula for reducing the Aggregate Measure of Support (एम्स) for cotton compared to the general AMS percentage reduction for a country. If a country’s general Amber Box cut is “Rg”, specifically 60 percent for the U.S., the percentage cut for cotton was to be equal to Rg + ((100-Rg)x100)/3xRg, 82.2 percent for the U.S. Blue Box direct support for cotton would be capped at one-third of the normal limit. The time for reducing the cotton support would be one-third of the period for the rest of the agreement, which will probably be five years. The bottom line is that U.S. trade distorting domestic cotton supports would be reduced 82.2 percent over two years.

The more aggressive domestic support reduction for cotton was promoted by four West African cotton producing countries, Benin, Chad, माली, and Burkina Faso. The cotton industry is estimated to employee 15 million people in West Africa. Their efforts at changing U.S. cotton programs were reinforced by a 2004 ruling by a WTO dispute resolution panel in a Brazilian case that the U.S. had failed to meet its commitments on cotton support programs.

The cotton market has changed radically since the Doha talks began in November of 2001. According to data from the Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA, world cotton production in the 2001/02 marketing year was 98.7 दस लाख 480 pound bales. Production topped out at 122.0 में दस लाख गांठें 2006/07 and declined to 112.9 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. यू.एस. production was 20.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02, increased to 23.9 में दस लाख गांठें 2005/06 and declined to 13.5 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. यू.एस. yield per acre was almost the same in 2008/09 as in 2005/06, but area harvested declined by 6.0 लाख एकड़, 44 प्रतिशत, because other crops were more profitable. Chinese production went from 24.4 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 37.0 million bases in 2007/08 तथा 36.5 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. India’s production doubled from 12.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 25.0 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. India and China together now account for 54.5 percent of world cotton production, ऊपर से 37.2 में प्रतिशत 2001/02. अमेरिका. share of production declined from 20.6 में प्रतिशत 2001/02 सेवा 12.0 में प्रतिशत 2008/09. With U.S. cotton futures prices at $0.45 per pound and excess world supplies of cotton, यू.एस. cotton acreage is likely to be down again in 2009. Production for the cotton four from West Africa was 2.9 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02, peaked at 3.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2004/05 and declined to 1.9 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09.

यू.एस. cotton exports have also been transformed over the last seven years. में 2001/02 निर्यात थे 11.0 million bales. They peaked at 17.5 में दस लाख गांठें 2005/06 and are projected to decline to 13.0 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. During the same time the ending of the multi-fiber agreement opened the U.S. market to more cotton product imports; domestic use declined from 7.7 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 4.4 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. Total use of U.S. cotton declined from 18.7 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 17.4 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09, while total world use of cotton has increased from 94.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 119.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09. Use of U.S. cotton as a percent of total world cotton use has declined from 19.8 में प्रतिशत 2001/02 सेवा 14.6 में प्रतिशत 2008/09.

Changes in production, use and exports in most of the world, including the U.S. and the cotton four countries in West Africa, have been overwhelmed by production increases in China and India. यू.एस. cotton programs also did not prevent Brazil from increasing production from 3.5 में दस लाख गांठें 2001/02 सेवा 7.4 में दस लाख गांठें 2007/08, before pulling back to 6.3 में दस लाख गांठें 2008/09 on smaller area planted and a slight drop in yields.

Whatever the merits of Brazil’s claims against U.S. cotton programs in 2004 or the more recent claims by the West African countries, the reality is that cotton markets have been changed by cotton production increases in China and India that appear to be permanent. Ending U.S. cotton programs slowly or rapidly are not likely to improve market conditions for smaller producers around the world. If those producers are to be competitive long term they will need to focus on increasing yields, lowering production costs and transforming marketing systems to improve efficiencies of getting products to market. अमेरिका. and the rest of the world need to find a solution on U.S. domestic support programs that does not result in the U.S. or the cotton four countries rejecting the outcome and scuttling the entire WTO talks. This is not the time to pursue a false litmus test on economic development.