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ITC and WTO Partnership to Spell Greater Transparency for Global Cotton Sector

Producers, policy makers and traders will be able to boost their accessibility to the global cotton sector with a new digital tool created by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

At the WTO’s recent 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, the ITC and the WTO introduced The Cotton Portal—a new online platform for cotton product market intelligence. The portal is expected to facilitate a more open cotton trading system by making cotton product trade information more transparent for the daily operations of industry members.

“The Cotton Portal will enable cotton producers and traders to harvest greater benefits from increased participation in global trade, particularly for least developed countries,” ITC executive director Arancha González said. “By making the sector more transparent, businesses will have easier access to trade and market intelligence, allowing them to add additional value to their exports.”

Designed for exporters, importers, stakeholders and trade support institutions, the portal enables them to search market requirements and business opportunities for global cotton products. The platform equips industry members with a single entry point for cotton market information available in ITC and WTO databases. On the portal, industry members have access to country-specific business contacts, development assistance-related information, market access, trade statistics and links to other cotton sector organizations.

[Read more about the cotton sector: Mozambique Wants to Be the First Country With 100 Percent Better Cotton]

Cotton has been a major part of the WTO agenda for the past 14 years.

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In 2003, four African cotton-producing countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, introduced a Sectoral Initiative on Cotton, which called for cotton subsidies to be eliminated, since they were believed to cause economic hardship for those nations.

Twelve years later, in 2015, the Nairobi Ministerial Decision on Cotton was proposed to the WTO—highlighting the importance of growing cotton industries in developing nations, in addition to improving market access for these poverty-stricken countries, reforming domestic support and terminating export subsidiaries. With the cotton portal, the Nairobi decision will take form, enabling industry members to analyze market access issues for cotton products and develop solutions to remedy them.

“Today’s launch is an important addition to our efforts in helping the cotton community achieve their development goals,” WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said. “By gathering all the relevant information, it means that we can better monitor the implementation of the market access commitments made by members in Nairobi.”