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Cotton made in Africa joins WTO and FIFA in supporting African Cotton through football

Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is now supporting a joint initiative by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) that aims to promote economic growth in developing countries through football. As the newest member of the steering committee of the recently established initiative, Partnership for Cotton or Partenariat pour le Coton, CmiA is contributing its internationally recognised expertise as the largest standard for sustainable cotton in Africa.
© 2024 Cotton made in Africa
© 2024 Cotton made in Africa

The aim is to integrate West African cotton-growing countries more closely in the global value chain for football clothing.

At their latest meeting, held in Benin in early June, the founding members—WTO and FIFA—welcomed the sustainability standard Cotton made in Africa as a new member of the steering committee of the initiative ‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ (Partnership for Cotton). As a standard of the Aid by Trade Foundation, Cotton made in Africa is a key player in sustainable cotton production in Africa. CmiA works with 20 cotton companies and nearly one million small-scale farmers in eleven countries in Africa South of the Sahara. “The topic of sustainable cotton production and the concerns of people in the region are close to our heart. The founding of this multilateral partnership on the initiative of WTO and FIFA is a step in the right direction in terms of developing a sustainable value chain, from raw cotton to the finished textile, in Africa,” states Tina Stridde, the managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), adding, “We are happy to apply our now nearly 20 years of professional expertise in African cotton and the international textile trade to the task of making sustainable cotton profitable for small-scale farmers from Africa and economically viable for trade.”

The Partnership for Cotton initiative was established as Partenariat pour le Coton in February 2024 at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Abu Dhabi by the director-general of the WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and by the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino. In addition to its founding members—the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)—the steering committee includes the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). According to Okonjo-Iweala, the founding of this initiative marks a new phase of an agreement, made between FIFA and WTO in 2022, that aims to open up new markets to African cotton farmers and producers, for example in the area of sportswear.

‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ has set itself the goal of promoting the cotton and textile sector in West Africa’s “Cotton 4” (Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Benin) and in Côte d’Ivoire by leveraging football’s economic development potential in cotton-producing countries. In practical terms, this means that the countries not only grow and export cotton but also increase business activity in the profitable processing stages of production. Cotton made in Africa has close connections to many countries in the region, with a particularly long history of cultivation and activity in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.

In connection with the meeting of the steering committee of ‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ in Cotonou, Benin, from 4 to 6 June, the members of the committee, including Cotton made in Africa, were informed about the initiative’s latest progress and its next steps. Committee members also visited an industrial estate in which African cotton is processed into textiles.

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