§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had since 17 September 2003 with representatives of the United States Administration on the impact of US subsidies to domestic cotton producers on cotton producers in West Africa. 
§ Hilary Benn
EU and US cotton subsidies are among the clearest examples of trade distortion by OECD countries. Failure to address them satisfactorily was a key issue behind the collapse of WTO talks at Cancun. Four West African countries (with support from European donors including the UK) presented an initiative at the WTO calling for the end to developed country subsidies, and compensatory support to developing country cotton producers who are negatively affected by them in the meantime. US subsidies are the largest, but recent research supported by my Department and the EU Directorate General for Development shows EU subsidies also affect West Africa because of market structures.
Reform of the EU's own support to its cotton sector is currently being discussed in Brussels. While these discussions continue, DFID has not had direct contacts with the US administration on the issue. The UK is pressing for more significant reform of the EU cotton regime than is currently proposed, both as an end in itself and also to help push the US to address their subsidies.