Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cheating the poor - Cotton T-shirts

On 4 June 2005, the UK's Independent, wrote about world trade.

Aid agencies such as Oxfam have pointed out that subsidies to US cotton farmers are helping to ruin Africa's cotton farmers.

A T-shirt is sold in the UK for under £2.

The T-shirt is not made with African cotton.

The T-shirt is made with American cotton because subsidies make it artificially cheap.

American cotton farmers receive $3.9bn (£2bn) a year in Government subsidies - three times the annual amount the US gives in aid to Africa.

In Benin more than 60,000 farmers have stopped growing cotton in the past five years because they cannot compete with American cotton

The World Trade Organisation ruled in 2004 that America's cotton subsidy system was illegal.

Amy Barry, of Oxfam, said:

"The whole system of American subsidies is not only morally unjust but illegal, and the WTO has backed that. Cotton is a graphic example of how these subsidies destroy the poorest farmers in the poorest countries, and we are calling for a scrapping of the system and compensation to African farmers for the losses they have incurred."

"This is about political reform but consumers need to take responsibility.

"The reason why you can buy a T-shirt for £3 in the shops, days after something similar has been featured in Vogue is because of these artificially low cotton prices and labour costs which have a direct and destructive impact on farmers in Benin and other African countries.

"You may be able to get cheaper clothes, but at what price?"

It costs the American farmer 78 cents per pound to grow cotton.
The American farmer sells his cotton for 48 cents per pound.
Most of the American cotton goes to China.


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