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China is looking to Africa for an alternative source of cotton

By Zhou Siyu (China Daily)

09:12, December 16, 2011

BEIJING - China is doing more to promote and develop its cotton-planting operation in four African countries, the Ministry of Commerce said on its website on Thursday.

Experts and analysts said the move will help to strengthen ties between China, Benin, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso. It will also allow the cotton trade to take place under fairer conditions in accordance with the World Trade Organization's (WTO) framework.

According to the statement, China will provide seeds, machinery, fertilizer and other materials to help promote cotton planting in the African countries.

Various programs will also provide training for technical and management personnel in both China and Africa, where companies will be encouraged to cooperate, innovate and improve their production capabilities in the textile industry, the ministry said.

The cotton trade does much to reduce poverty in a number of African countries. To boost their economic growth, many of these countries have adopted reforms meant to improve the quality of the cotton and make them more effective competitors in the international market.

Those efforts, though, have been frustrated by the hefty cotton subsidies that have been adopted in the United States and other countries, which are believed to have distorted world cotton prices, analysts say. In recent years, cotton subsidies have become a large hurdle in the Doha Round of talks now being conducted by the WTO.

The Doha Round, also known as the Doha Development Agenda, began in December 2001. One of its biggest goals is to make it easier for both developing countries and the least-developed countries to sell products in rich countries.

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