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Cotton has become a problem for the United States in the WTO. First, the Cancun ministerial in 2003 collapsed because of disagreements over agricultural subsidies, symbolized by a dispute between the U.S., which heavily subsidizes cotton, and a group of West African nations who want to become cotton exporters. Since then, cotton problems have continued to plague the U.S. Brazil, joined by the West African nations, successfully disputed U.S. cotton subsidies and won a WTO judgment against several U.S. programs. And here in Hong Kong, cotton remains a sensitive subject.

In order to placate the West Africans, the U.S. rolled out a proposal today that sounds bold but helps the West Africans very little. The U.S. proposed including cotton in a


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