SP calls for emergency fund for West African cotton farmers

16 February 2006

SP calls for emergency fund for West African cotton farmers

During today’s debate on the outcome and likely results of the WTO’s Doha Round, SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang called for the establishment of an emergency fund to compensate West African farmers for the fall in the price of cotton.

Ewout IrrgangThe Socialist Party MP believes that as long as subsidies continue to be paid to their own cotton farmers by, amongst others, the EU and the US, West Africans in the sector should be compensated for falling prices. According to Mr Irrgang: “In a country such as Mali, where three million people are directly or indirectly dependent on cotton production, falling prices have had a devastating effect on an enormous number of people’s lives. If western governments ceased to subsidise their cotton farmers, world prices would rise by 15%. This would give the Malian government €46 million, eliminating in one fell swoop the country's trade deficit. This money could then be used towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, such as ensuring education for all boys and girls by 2015, or health care for all.”

Minister of Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst said that he sees no advantage in an emergency fund and drew a comparison with the ultimately unsuccessful stability fund of the 1970s. According to Irrgang, however, this is a false comparison: “our proposal is not to interfere with world prices the stability funds were intended to do. We want simply to see compensation for cotton farmers as long as fair trade remains off the agenda.”

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