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Global Textile Groups Rap India's Cotton Export Policies

Textile organizations in the United States, European Union, Mexico and Turkey have sent a joint letter to their respective governments urging immediate action to halt cotton trade restrictions by the government of India. The organizations include the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), European Federation of Cotton and Allied Textiles Industries (Eurocoton), Cámara Nacional de la Industria Textil (CANAINTEX), Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporter Associations (ITKIB) and Turkish Textile Employers Association (TTEA).

Together, the organizations represent more than 1 million textile workers, whose jobs could be threatened by what the groups contend are discriminatory and illegal actions by India — the world's second-largest cotton exporter — to restrict or ban cotton exports in an effort to protect its domestic textile industry. The groups note that the actions, imposed in April 2010, caused global cotton prices to more than double by late October, while India has guaranteed low prices for cotton consumed by its own textile mills. They further note that resulting price inequities are skewing competition in favor of not only Indian textile and apparel producers - which are able to offer their products at subsidized prices — but also Chinese state-owned textile mills — which are purchasing the remaining global supply at the high prices demanded while also enjoying government subsidies that allow  "enormous price flexibility."

The letter states: "If the current scenario of India curtailing and delaying export of its cotton crop continues to play out, European, Mexican, U.S. and Turkish textile mills will face the prospect of prolonged high prices for cotton or having no supply of cotton at all. Either way, our mills cannot survive such a scenario for an extended period of time." It further asks "that our governments immediately send the strongest message to India that it must not restrict or delay export of its cotton to world markets and must abide by international trade rules."

November/December 2010