Resource Title

The Great Cotton Stitch-Up


The Great Cotton Stitch-Up is a 40-page report on the plight of African cotton farmers vis-à-vis the use of “the wall of subsidies” in many industrialised countries preventing the world’s poorest cotton farmers from making a living and includes recommendations for making cotton trade fairer.

Resource Details


The Great Cotton Stitch-Up outlines in detail how US, EU and China subsidies –totalling US$47bn – have had a devastating effect on cotton farmers in West Africa and how the C-4 (among the least developed countries on earth that rely on cotton more than any other commodity for their export revenues: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) brought this issue to the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) but have yet to reach an agreement, under a system where some countries continue to be more equal than others.

The resource explains that cotton subsidy reform hinges on the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the US Farm Bill, both of which are under review until 2013.

The report is packed with beautifully designed infographics, images, cotton farmer perspectives told through case studies and short, concise analyses of causes and problems with the current state of the global cotton trade system.

Big Ideas in this Resource

Includes recommendations to the EU and the UK government in:

  • Ensuring the EU’s commitment in the WTO to eliminate all trade distorting cotton subsidies
  • Using the bilateral relationship with the US and multilateral forums to influence the US in its role in the debate and action as it relates to cotton – Continue its engagement in the WTO reform process

Further Reading

Video: The Great Cotton Stitch-Up: Harriet Lamb on international trade subsidies (YouTube – 2min 16 secs length)

The Guardian newspaper coverage: Fairtrade Foundation Lifts lid on Mali’s entrenched poverty 15 November 2010

Fairtrade Foundation UK : The Great Cotton Stitch Up campaign page

Available from:

Download The Great Cotton Stich-Up PDF