ITC Executive Director speech at the World Cotton Day

7 October 2019
ITC News

Cotton is not just the clothes you wear. It is the income and dignity of millions of farmers, producers and workers across the world, men and women- many in rural areas.

It is creativity, design, talent and value added.

It is the fight against climate change. It is the circular economy.

Cotton is textiles, food, energy. Cotton us also trade. It is tariffs, non-tariff measures and subsidies, both good and less good ones.

That’s why the International Trade Centre supports strengthening every step of the value chain, from cotton to clothing, ensuring that greater competitiveness leads to better returns.

We do that in the Cotton Four countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, and beyond.

We do this by training producers to improve cotton quality, negotiate better prices and gain techniques like hand-spinning or weaving.

We support creating value at source, ensuring that farmers earn more than just the market price at harvest time. Farmers are at the core of our approach.

In West Africa, our Ethical Fashion Initiative is connecting ‘Made in Africa’ textiles with fashion and design brands, raising the visibility and income of these communities.

In Zambia, the introduction of hand spinning and weaving increased resilience against weather and price shocks. Farmers now earn year-round income.

We facilitate South-South trade, investment and knowledge sharing such as that between India and East Africa. We also facilitate investments between China and Southern Africa.

We have developed cotton-to-clothing strategies for Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as regional strategies across Africa.

We are supporting farmers adapt to climate change.

In all these ways, cotton matters to our work and to the lives of millions of people.

This is why we hope that the WTO membership will also continue to support a more open, less distorted, better supported cotton value chains.

Finally, on a more festive note, today at 17.30 ITC will be hosting a fashion-show here at the WTO where we hope you can all join to admire the beautiful clothes made by talented West African designers.

Thank you and this is to a successful World Cotton Day.