Friday 07 June 2024, 12:30

FIFA and World Trade Organization “Partenariat pour le Coton” initiative holds steering committee meeting in Benin

  • The initiative between FIFA and the World Trade Organization aims to help develop the cotton-to-textile value chain in the Cotton Four (plus) countries

  • The project builds on the memorandum of understanding signed by the two institutions

The steering committee of the “Partenariat pour le Coton” initiative led by FIFA and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which explores ways of using football to help develop the cotton-to-textile value chain in the Cotton Four (plus) countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and observer member Côte d’Ivoire), met in Cotonou, Benin, between 4 and 6 June.

Over the course of the three-day meeting, participants, including representative from FIFA, were updated on the latest progress of the project and discussed the next steps to achieve concrete results for cotton producers.

The partnership was launched following on from the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the WTO and FIFA in 2022, which, among other aspects, examines how football’s global appeal can be used to promote economic inclusion in developing countries.

Cotton is a key component of everyday clothing and provides a source of income and a livelihood for millions of people worldwide. A big part of cotton production in Africa takes place in the Cotton Four (plus) countries, whose populations are passionate about football.

The cotton produced in the above-mentioned group of countries is among the most sustainable in the world, as it is hand-picked, irrigated by rainwater and, for the most part, organically fertilised. However, the cotton is mainly exported as a raw material rather than a finished product.

The link-up between FIFA and the WTO explores ways of addressing this situation to ensure that the field-to-fabric cycle is completed in the Cotton Four (plus) nations, giving them a greater share of sports and, more generally, clothing market revenues, thereby making a real difference to people’s lives.

FIFA and World Trade Organization “Partenariat pour le Coton” initiative

The participants in the steering committee meeting included representatives from the African Export-Import Bank, Better Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, FIFA, the International Cotton Advisory Committee, the International Finance Corporation, the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the WTO, as well as government representatives from the Cotton Four (plus) countries, and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Benin.

During the meeting, the steering committee discussed the findings of a baseline assessment undertaken by UNIDO with the support of the ITC, which will help to identify the key challenges faced by the Cotton Four countries in increasing value-added output from the sector. The second phase of the project will focus on resource mobilisation and the drafting and implementation of a comprehensive assistance programme to bridge the identified capacity gaps.

In her opening address, Benin’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Shadiya Alimatou Assouman, underlined the importance of the cotton sector to the economic development of the West African nation and the other Cotton Four countries (Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali). She also acknowledged the significant work being undertaken by the WTO and FIFA through the Partenariat pour le Coton.

Reflecting on the meeting, Céline Zigaul, FIFA Senior International Relations and Public Affairs Manager, commented: “We’ve had a very productive and encouraging meeting here in Benin, and I’d like to thank the WTO and all the members of the steering committee.

"This initiative is showing how football can make a real difference and positively impact social development, particularly for women and youth, who are at the heart of the value chain from field to fabric.”

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