Washington, D.C. –
The United States today proposed wide-ranging reforms to the International
Coffee Organization (ICO) aimed at strengthening the ICO’s contributions to the
world coffee economy.
These reforms are being proposed just one year after the United States
rejoined the ICO, which is an intergovernmental body whose members account for
more than 97 percent of world coffee production and 80 percent of coffee
consumption. The United States was instrumental in creating the ICO in 1962, but
left the organization in 1993.
The U.S. proposed reforms seek to create new roles for the ICO that can
provide benefits to all stakeholders and guide the ICO away from its historic
use of market interventions in the coffee sector.
"When the United States rejoined the ICO in 2005, we recognized the
organization’s potential, but we also saw the need for change" said U.S. Trade
Representative Rob Portman. "We are seeking to build on the ICO’s strengths. We
have proposed structural and functional reforms that will improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of the ICO. The expiration of the current agreement in 2007
presents an opportunity for the members to take action in order to reform the
organization so that it can make a real difference."
The U.S. proposed reforms were presented as broad themes and include:
expanding the organization’s objectives to promote a comprehensive approach to
sustainability, including environmental sustainability; streamlining the ICO’s
structure and operations; expanding and enhancing the collection and
dissemination of information relevant to coffee farmers, especially small
producers; strengthening the contributions of the private sector; highlighting
the importance and effectiveness of capacity building projects; assisting small
producers in managing the consequences of unpredictable market conditions; and
making the organization more accessible and attractive to civil society
Coffee is the world’s second most-traded commodity, accounting for more than
US$70 billion in retail sales each year, and is produced in more than 60
countries. Coffee provides a livelihood for some 25 million coffee farming
families around the world. The United States is the largest coffee importer in
the world, and coffee roasting and retailing is a significant sector of the U.S.
The ICO currently collects and reports statistical information on the coffee
sector, provides a forum for interaction among governments and private sector
participants in the coffee sector, and advocates for the sector. The current
agreement, the International Coffee Agreement (2001), marked an important
departure away from market intervention mechanisms by the ICO, and the United
States rejoined in 2005 to enhance efforts to reform the organization and create
new relevant roles for the ICO .
A copy of the U.S. proposal is available on the USTR website by clicking here.