Following China’s announcement of significantly higher proposed tariffs on U.S. raw cotton shipped to China, the National Cotton Council (NCC) issued a statement noting its concern that the tariffs would significantly harm the U.S. cotton industry’s economic health. In the statement, NCC Chairman Ron Craft emphasized the importance of China’s market to U.S. cotton farmers and the importance of U.S. cotton in meeting Chinese textile industry needs -- and that the two countries' cotton industries enjoyed a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship. He strongly encouraged the two governments to engage in immediate discussions that could resolve the trade tensions and stated the U.S. cotton industry stood ready to assist the U.S. government and U.S. cotton's trading partners in China to find a resolution to the trade dispute.
Following Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s mid-year announcement that USDA would assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation, the NCC issued a statement conveying its support for the Trump Administration's interim action until better trade relationships could be restored and improved. The NCC worked with USDA in 1) providing data on how the tariffs were affecting cotton producers and other industry segments and 2) offering recommendations on response options and support levels.
Later, after Secretary Perdue announced the first round of assistance in the form of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments, the NCC issued a statement thanking the Administration for its recognition of the tariff impacts and the strong response to help the affected industries. Following USDA’s issuance of further guidance on the MFP, the NCC 1) worked with USDA as the department analyzed the impacts of the retaliatory tariffs on cotton trade and considered the second tranche of tariff mitigation support and 2) reminded producer members about the MFP’s initial January 15, 2019, signup deadline. The NCC also issued a statement conveying its thanks to President Trump and Secretary Perdue for authorizing in late December the second round of trade mitigation payments.
The NCC was among 78 organizations and companies representing the food and agricultural sectors which signed onto a letter to Senators urging the timely confirmations for the nominations of: 1) Gregg Doud as the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) Chief Agricultural Negotiator, 2) Dennis Shea as Deputy USTR (Geneva) and 3) C. J. Mahoney as Deputy USTR (Investment, Services, Labor, Environment, Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere).
The NCC joined groups representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, transportation and logistics providers, and other supply chain stakeholders on a letter to the International Longshore Association and the United States Maritime Alliance to express deep concern about a breakdown in negotiations on a labor contract extension for East and Gulf coast ports that was to expire in 2018.
After the announcement of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the NCC issued a statement in which Chairman Craft stated, "The National Cotton Council is extremely appreciative of the Trump Administration's work to update and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, and our industry welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations." The NCC's statement pointed out that the USMCA will ensure continued duty-free access for U.S. cotton to Mexico and Canada, with Mexico representing a top five export market for U.S. raw cotton. Both Canada and Mexico are top five export markets for cotton textile and apparel exports. Late in the year, the NCC filed comments with the International Trade Commission in support of the USMCA.
The NCC issued a statement that said it 1) welcomed the counternotification submitted by the United States regarding domestic support provided to India’s cotton producers and 2) applauded the USTR’s office and USDA for their efforts to seek transparency in the support provided to cotton producers in other countries. The counternotification, submitted to the World Trade Organization by the United States, covered the 2010-11 through 2016-17 marketing years, when India’s Minimum Price Support payments ranged from 53 percent to 81 percent of the cotton production value.