A bipartisan group of senators is requesting the Obama administration to oppose Chinese restrictions on imported U.S. cotton, if necessary, at the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization next month.
The senators representing agricultural states, including Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, wrote to agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack last week laying out their objections to China's new cotton registration requirement on imports, which they say is a violation of WTO rules.
China must be urged to enact a six-month delay of the registration requirement, through diplomatic channels and the U.S. state department, the senators wrote.
"We believe that if the United States government fails to vigorously object to these arbitrary and unnecessary requirements on U.S. cotton exporters, it will open the door to continued attempts by our trading partners to apply such barriers against a wider range of U.S. agricultural commodities," they wrote.
The Chinese registration requirement will add costs to U.S. cotton at a time of the lowest demand for textiles since the great depression, hurting a $7.8 billion trade with China over the past five years, the senators wrote.
The National Cotton Council last week objected to proposed program changes included in President Obamas 2010 budget that would reduce direct payments to some agribusinesses.