Cotton made in Africa Joins WTO and FIFA in Supporting African Cotton Through Football


Hamburg, 2024-06-18. Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is now supporting a joint initiative by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) that aims to promote economic growth in developing countries through football. As the newest member of the steering committee of the recently established initiative, Partnership for Cotton or Partenariat pour le Coton, CmiA is contributing its internationally recognised expertise as the largest standard for sustainable cotton in Africa. The aim is to integrate West African cotton-growing countries more closely in the global value chain for football clothing.

At their latest meeting, held in Benin in early June, the founding members—WTO and FIFA—welcomed the sustainability standard Cotton made in Africa as a new member of the steering committee of the initiative ‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ (Partnership for Cotton). As a standard of the Aid by Trade Foundation, Cotton made in Africa is a key player in sustainable cotton production in Africa. CmiA works with 20 cotton companies and nearly one million small-scale farmers in eleven countries in Africa South of the Sahara. “The topic of sustainable cotton production and the concerns of people in the region are close to our heart. The founding of this multilateral partnership on the initiative of WTO and FIFA is a step in the right direction in terms of developing a sustainable value chain, from raw cotton to the finished textile, in Africa,” states Tina Stridde, the managing director of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), adding, “We are happy to apply our now nearly 20 years of professional expertise in African cotton and the international textile trade to the task of making sustainable cotton profitable for small-scale farmers from Africa and economically viable for trade.”

The Partnership for Cotton initiative was established as Partenariat pour le Coton in February 2024 at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Abu Dhabi by the director-general of the WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and by the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino. In addition to its founding members—the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)—the steering committee includes the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). According to Okonjo-Iweala, the founding of this initiative marks a new phase of an agreement, made between FIFA and WTO in 2022, that aims to open up new markets to African cotton farmers and producers, for example in the area of sportswear.

‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ has set itself the goal of promoting the cotton and textile sector in West Africa’s “Cotton 4” (Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Benin) and in Côte d’Ivoire by leveraging football’s economic development potential in cotton-producing countries. In practical terms, this means that the countries not only grow and export cotton but also increase business activity in the profitable processing stages of production. Cotton made in Africa has close connections to many countries in the region, with a particularly long history of cultivation and activity in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.

In connection with the meeting of the steering committee of ‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ in Cotonou, Benin, from 4 to 6 June, the members of the committee, including Cotton made in Africa, were informed about the initiative’s latest progress and its next steps. Committee members also visited an industrial estate in which African cotton is processed into textiles.

About Cotton made in Africa:

The Cotton made in Africa initiative (CmiA) was founded in 2005 under the umbrella of the Hamburg-based Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF). CmiA is an internationally recognised standard for sustainably produced cotton from Africa, connecting African small-scale farmers with trading companies and fashion brands throughout the global textile value chain. The initiative’s objective is to employ trade, rather than donations, to protect the environment and to improve the living conditions of small-scale farmers and their families. Apart from the farming families, people working in ginneries also benefit from improved working conditions. Additional projects addressing schooling, health, environmental protection, and women’s empowerment contribute to better living conditions in farming communities as well. Learn more at:

About the Aid by Trade Foundation:

Founded in 2005, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) is an internationally renowned non-profit organisation that works throughout the world to promote sustainable raw materials. Its activities make a decisive and measurable contribution to improving the living conditions of people and animals while protecting the environment. AbTF takes a practical approach by creating and maintaining a variety of standards to verify raw materials: Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Cotton made in Africa Organic (CmiA Organic), Regenerative Cotton Standard (RCS), and The Good Cashmere Standard (GCS). A global alliance of textile companies and brands purchases the verified raw materials, paying a licensing fee to AbTF’s marketing company, ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft GmbH. The payment of this fee entitles partners to sell their goods under the standards’ labels. As the challenges facing textile companies and small-scale farmers grow, the standards have a major role to play in ensuring their resilience and future viability. AbTF collaborates closely with industry experts and with specialists in animal and nature protection. Learn more at:

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