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China steps up support for African cotton-producing countries

Source:   Time:

BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- China will expand its cooperation program with the group of four major African cotton- producing countries, or the C4, trade officials from the two sides announced at the sidelines of the ongoing 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) here Tuesday.

China is moving one step further in promoting the capacity of the C4 countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, in production, processing and logistics cooperation of the cotton industry, said Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng at a press briefing.

The agreement is a follow-up of a cooperation program that started in 2011 at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference, which helped cotton production in the four cotton-growing countries that roughly account for 15 percent of the world's cotton exports.

The program has helped cotton growers at home, said Abderahim Bireme Hamid, Chad minister of commerce and industry, on behalf of the C4 group.

Based on the previous program, practical measures will be taken to conduct more effective and diversified cooperation under the framework of South-South cooperation, according to the two sides.

"China wishes to enhance the C4's capacity in the area of cotton through processing and logistics, so as to make it a new model of south-south cooperation," said Gao.

The extended program will cover new areas such as cotton processing and sales, he said.

China will also increase assistance in infrastructures construction, production materials, technology training, research and transportation, as well as encouraging the establishment of joint-ventures between Chinese and African companies, all of which will be carried out by the end of 2014, according to the agreement.

Seeing developing countries now able to provide technical assistance is a "very welcomed development," said WTO Director- General Roberto Azevedo, who described the cooperation on cotton as a renewed push for WTO negotiations.

Assistance under south-south cooperation is of mutual benefit -- they learn from each other, he said.

The WTO ministers' meeting, struggling to revive the long- stalled Doha Round by reaching a possible trade deal, is set to be held from Dec. 3 to 6 with the participation of trade chiefs of the organization's 159 members and other 10,000 diplomats from more than 160 countries and regions.

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