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Dear members, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you to all of you who have come from far away, to attend our cotton meeting in Deauville.
Some of you continued your journey to Geneva and even to Liverpool.
We hope you have all returned home well.
The French Cotton Association (AFCOT), which was celebrating its 129th anniversary, met in Deauville on September 30th and October 1st 2019. Over 300 people from five continents took part in the event.
The participants found themselves on monday for a welcome party.
On October 1st, the day began with a seminar hosted by the French Cotton Association and the African Cotton Association. Debates were chaired by the presidents of AFCOT, Mr Curt ARBENZ, and the first vice president of ACA, Mr Ibrahim MALLOUM.
The speakers were Mr Michael EDWARDS of Cotton Oulook, Mr Younoussa IMOROU ALI, Technical Advisor for CMiA , Mr Wilfried A.G. YAMEOGO, CEO of SOFITEX
To find their presentation and all the pictures of the different moments of these days, go to the new AFCOT website in the section ‘Our events’ then Deauville 2019.
This site is made for you. Indeed, a complete overhaul of our site was carried out. From a technical point of view, our site has a new tree structure that simplifies navigation. Its new format is also fully adapted to tablets and smart phones. Beyond these technical aspects, you will find all the pages dedicated to the world of cotton as well as new sections.
Do not hesitate to consult it.
All the participants where then invited to a friendly net working lunch.
The afternoon was dedicated to the meetings before all the participants find themselves for the pre dinner drink, followed by the gala dinner.
During his speech, the president of the AFCOT recalled the milestones of this cotton year. His speech is also online on our site.
The President and the Board of Directors of the French Cotton Association would like to thank the three presenters and all the participants.
We are looking forward seeing you on October 2020 at Le Méridien Beach Plaza, 22 avenue Princesse Grace, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Cotton meeting of Deauville, september 30th & october 1rt 2019
Speech of Mr Curt ARBENZ
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Guests, dear Members,
After our little detour via Monaco in 2018, we meet again in Deauville. For those who are with us for the first time, Deauville is about forty kilometers south of Le Havre, the city where our Association was founded in 1880. While Le Havre has a rich history as a port of imports from America and Africa; Deauville has long been known as a seaside resort. The Hôtel Royal was built before the First World War!
Liberated by Allied forces in August 1944, Deauville is also known for its American Film Festival. Don’t worry, this evening there will be no movies, no glittering jewels, only true pleasure, the pleasure of once again being together, the real actors of the cotton industry. We are celebrating cotton tonight and you are the stars!
Without forgetting this afternoon’s networking, we had an exciting and rewarding morning of seminars, thanks especially to the speakers whom we all greatly appreciated. Younoussa Imourou Ali spoke to us about sustainable development and the Cotton made in Africa label and their activities in West Africa, followed by Michael Edwards – a loyal Afcot speaker – once again presented us with a precise market analysis. The final presentation of the seminar – by Wilfried Yameogo – revealed the revival of production and explained the various sustainable projects in Burkina Faso. On behalf of all of us, I congratulate the three gentlemen and thank them very much for their performance and commitment!
What is AFCOT? It is 129 years assisting the cotton industry. Our association has nearly 60 member companies and five fundamental objectives:
In order to offer you more services, the association is in constant movement and we have just completely redesigned our website.
You will discover a simplified surfing, as well as a new browser interface adapted to tablets and Smart phones.
You will find pages dedicated to the world of cotton, new sections, and in a few days, the pictures taken today will be online!
Another example of our quest for excellence. You have certainly noticed that the day had a ‘sustainable’ leitmotiv. In that same spirit, we have created a new ethics commission that we affectionately call “COMETHI”. This commission was created following various more-or-less public and aggressive attacks on certain traders and African producers in the European press. Fearing the possibility of a new ill-founded but potentially reputation-damaging attack to our industry, the Board was within weeks able to define goals and missions for this emerging ethics commission, which is chaired by Cindy Deza-Nana, itself closely supported by Philippe Bourgeois, Lassana Kargougou, Gérald Estur, and Frédéric Viel.
One of the aims of this commission is to set up a database as soon as possible bringing together all the sustainable, environmental and social efforts of all our members and partners. The goal is to be armed with arguments and to be able to communicate publicly as a united industry in the event of an attack. The ambition being, never to find ourselves defenseless in the face of discrediting actions by the press or boycotts of African cotton by major distribution chains, labels or social media and so on.
As we moved forward with this project, we were amazed to see how some producers had already taken the lead. The number of social projects they had completed well before the foundation of Cométhi is impressive, of course CMiA and BCI also have been active the past decade. I would like to congratulate these ginners for their foresight, and we ask all of you to continue to collaborate with COMETHI and to provide us with all relevant information so that everyone in this room can be can sleep well and free of any criticism. I would like to point out that COMETHI’s mission is also to assist producers who have fallen behind in these matters and that they can be reassured that COMETHI is at their disposal for any practical advice.
In parallel to this, COMETHI is studying an upgrade of our somewhat archaic ethical charter, which seems outdated when compared charters of other agricultural sectors in Africa.
All in all, I reassure you that our association is well alive and innovative, backed by your solid financial support.
On the business side, the prices movements over the last 12 months were very uncomplicated. Just a few days before our 2018 seminar, the American administration introduced a new phase of tariffs on Chinese goods, the market was then around 80 c/lb or 1050 CFA per Kilo, but already well below the 1150 CFA reached three months earlier. At the same time, the USDA still reported a production deficit of one and a half million tons.
Since then, the Sino-American trade war and President Trump’s tweets have taken over, and in the meantime, production has surpassed demand. I don’t need to remind you how that film ended… On the other hand, I leave you with some positive arguments to leave some hope during my second year in office:
– First, this season’s low prices are demotivating and should bring production down for the 2020/21 season.
– Then, whether it is America, India or China, all the major producing countries have their subsidy programs aimed at reducing the stock available on the market in order to stimulate prices.
– Third, the Sino-American trade war should favor African cotton and improve its price in comparison to US cotton.
– Finally, the speculative community is holding almost record net short positions and could easily panic and forcefully buy the market at the slightest positive news.
I will stop now as far as the market is concerned.
Let’s return to the sustainability theme. Why? It’s simple, when we started thinking about the subject, I realized that in fact, I didn’t know much about it and I had to dive into publications to get to the bottom of it.
The 1987 Brundtland Report explains: “Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
I realized that contrary to my preconceived ideas: sustainable development is not just about protecting the environment or social issues. Indeed, the theory says that sustainable development is based on 3 pillars, or circles, we can summarize by talking about the “3 Ps”. People, Planet and Profit. Or, Social, Environmental and Economic.
Others refer to the expression “Triple Balance Sheet”. As far as I can remember, in the media hype of Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter or other, I have often heard about People and Planet, but I lack relevant memories on the 3rd Pillar: “Profit”. Certainly, I was able to find some academic definitions, but not really many concrete examples to share with you. The very definition of economic sustainability is quite subjective. For me, for the expression ‘economic sustainability’, I would like to suggest the following definition: “the ability of a project or a sector to independently maintain a certain level of economic productivity “. A project will be sustainable as soon as it can keep itself alive on its own.
In fact, the day external aid becomes superfluous, we will have succeeded in our fight for sustainability. In practice, what does this mean for us, us being strongly linked to African cotton production?
It is our duty throughout the supply chain to enable the farmer to provide for his family while respecting the people and planet around him. To do this, we must continue to help them secure their incomes by increasing their profitability. Not by subsidizing the prices of seed cotton or such, nor by doubling each farmer’s acreage, but by giving them the knowledge and technical means necessary to increase their yields in the fields while respecting nature.
Leaving you with this challenge, I thank you for listening and look forward to meeting you next year on October for the AFCOT 2020 annual conference and dinner in Monte Carlo!
We can now all move over to the bar, thanks for being here, and have a great evening!