#Human Rights
Bristol MEP's (Lord Dartmouth, Mr Colman, Mr Fox and Mr Watson)
United Kingdom

Fair trade is a trading partnership that provides sustainable development for poor producers and workers. The concept has been developed as response to current trade rules, which have not delivered for the overwhelming majority of small and vulnerable producers and poor workers in developing countries. We are writing to you today in honour of World Fair Trade Day, run by the WFTO.

Cotton is the most used natural fibre in the world and should be the ‘white gold’ that propels ten million West African farmers out of poverty. But the West African cotton industry is obstructed by a wall of subsidies paid by the United States and European Union to their farmers. Combined, the US and EU have spent $32bn on their cotton farmers over the past nine years. The result is to dampen down cotton prices for West African farmers, with devastating effects.

With an average GDP per capita of $637, and among the least developed countries on earth, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali (the Cotton-4) rely on cotton more than any other commodity for their export revenues. These countries also produce cotton more cheaply than anywhere else – a competitive advantage that logically should place them in a prime position to benefit from the world’s ever increasing desire for cotton products.

In 2003 the Cotton-4 brought this issue to the negotiating table at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) but have yet to secure a settlement. The Great Cotton Stitch-Up, a campaign spearheaded by the Fairtrade Foundation, explains that breaking through the wall of cotton subsidies hinges on reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the US Farm Bill – both of which are under review over the next two years.

Following the preamble above, the objective of the campaign is to ensure that the three decision making institutions in Brussels adopt a position in the current negotiations on the next CAP reform, to eliminate trade distorting cotton subsidies.

We urge you to take a stand on this issue and fight for those whose voices remain unheard in the third world and who are in desperate need of trade justice. We are asking you to commit to campaign on three points:

1. Confirmation that the UK will not accept any deal on post-2013 CAP reform that allows trade-distorting cotton subsidies to continue, and to communicate this position to EU counterparts.

2. Lobbying to ensure that abolition of cotton subsidies is firmly on all appropriate agendas for negotiation of the post-2013 CAP reform.

3. Pressing for a deal in the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations that ends trade distorting cotton subsidies and delivers on its commitment to development.

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The Protect the Cotton-4 petition to Bristol MEP's (Lord Dartmouth, Mr Colman, Mr Fox and Mr Watson) was written by Helen and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.