History of the ICAC
Profile of the ICAC


Location: Washington, DC USA
Established: September 1939
Created by: An International Cotton Meeting in Washington, DC
Mission: To assist members in fostering a healthy world cotton economy. The role of the ICAC is to raise awareness, to provide information and to serve as a catalyst for cooperative action on issues of international significance.
  • Provide statistics on world cotton production, consumption, trade and stocks, and to identify emerging changes in the structure of the world cotton market;
  • Serve as a clearing house for technical information about cotton and cotton textiles;
  • Serve as an objective forum for discussion of cotton matters of international significance;
  • Represent the international cotton industry before UN agencies and other international organizations.

History of the ICAC

The Committee is the outgrowth of an International Cotton Meeting held in Washington DC, in September 1939. At that time, world stocks of cotton had reached nearly 25 million bales, of which over half were located in the United States.

In September 1939 the following ten producing countries convened in Washington, D.C.: Brazil, British cotton exporting colonies, Egypt, French cotton exporting colonies, India, Mexico, Peru, Sudan, the USSR, and the United States, to discuss problems of over-production, rising stocks and falling prices. The principal objective was to take concerted international action to avoid chaotic developments in the world cotton economy.

The following resolution was passed:

That an Advisory Committee be set up in Washington DC representing the countries participating in the present conference, and including in addition representatives of other important cotton growing and exporting nations; such committee to undertake the following function:
  • To observe and keep in close touch with developments in the world cotton situation.
  • To suggest, as and when advisable, to the Governments represented any measures the committee considers suitable and practicable for the achievement of ultimate collaboration.
The ICAC met for the first time in Washington, D.C. in April 1940. At first, membership was limited to cotton producing countries. After the fourth meeting, an invitation to join the Committee was extended to all other United and Associated Nations substantially interested in the production, export or import of cotton.

At the fifth Meeting in May 1946, it was decided to establish a Secretariat and a governing Executive Committee consisting of representatives from six cotton producing and six cotton consuming countries. A beginning was also made with the statistical and economic information program, which became an intrinsic part of the Committee’s work. Subsequently, in 1948, it was agreed to replace the original Executive Committee with a Standing Committee in which all countries would have a voice.

Profile of the ICAC

The ICAC is an association of members of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries. The Committee was formed in 1939, and the Secretariat was established in 1946. The annual budget is US$1.8 million, of which about 85% come from members assessments and 15% from the sale of subscriptions and participant fees at meetings and seminars. There are eight members of the Secretariat originating from seven countries; all work from one office in Washington DC. Documents are published in English, French and Spanish, monthly summaries are available in Russian and annual summaries are available in Arabic and Russian.

The mission of the ICAC is to assist members in fostering a healthy world cotton economy. The Committee achieves its mission by providing transparency to the world cotton market, by serving as a clearinghouse for technical information on cotton production and by serving as a forum for discussion of cotton issues of international significance. The role of the ICAC is to raise awareness of emerging issues, provide information relevant to the solving of problems and to foster cooperation in the achievement of common objectives. By serving as an objective statistical observer and by bringing together producing, consuming and trading countries and all segments of the cotton industry, the ICAC serves a unique role as a catalyst for constructive change.

The ICAC does not have a role in setting market prices or in intervening in market mechanisms. However, the ICAC Secretariat provides valuable information that is timely and relevant to all sectors of the cotton industry in assessing market conditions. The ICAC is the premier source of international data on the world cotton industry. The Secretariat forecasts cotton supply, use and prices, estimates the supply of extra-fine cotton, and tracks exports by destination and imports by origin. The Secretariat measures and forecasts cotton consumption and cotton’s share of fiber demand in the world and by region and is the primary source in the world for statistics on fiber demand.

The ICAC Research Associate Program serves as an annual training program for researchers from both producing and consuming countries. The ICAC organizes each World Cotton Research Conference at four-year intervals, and helps to sponsor regional technical conferences around the world. Issues of The Recorder, special technical publications, as well as research on the cost of cotton production and cotton production practices help to inform all segments of the cotton research community. The Secretariat keeps abreast of new developments in cotton research, including organic cotton production, transgenic cotton and developments in fiber testing. The Secretariat is actively engaged in efforts to develop an international consensus on the adoption of objective classification standards to replace the current system of grades and types, and the Secretariat is facilitating efforts in producing countries to develop methods of reducing contamination in cotton.

The ICAC Task Force on Commercial Standardization of Instrument Testing of Cotton (CSITC) serves as the basis for international cooperation among cotton testing laboratories. CSITC Round Trials organized by the CSITC is to encourage standardization in cotton instrument testing, thereby promoting efficiency in cotton production and marketing, and to help participating cotton test centers to improve and ensure that their results are on the same level as other test centers around the world.

The ICAC Expert Panel on Social, Environmental and Economic Performance of Cotton Production (SEEP) works to provide information about the impacts of cotton production and recommend policies and practices to members for improvement. SEEP published a review of social science literature on the social impacts of cotton production. SEEP is now finalizing a report on pesticide use in cotton production, and SEEP is gathering data on labor costs and practices in cotton production. The ICAC Secretariat works with UNICEF, government agencies and some NGOs on the issue of child labor in cotton production.

Plenary Meetings

Plenary meetings of the ICAC provide a forum for the discussion of international issues of importance to the world cotton industry, and provide opportunities for industry and government leaders from producing, consuming and trading countries to consult on matters of mutual concern.

As the International Commodity Body for Cotton and Cotton Textiles, the ICAC plays a crucial role in the achievement of broad objectives in the cotton industry, and all industry participants and members officials with a concern about the health of the sector are invited to participate in ICAC activities.

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