HC Deb 20 January 1975 vol 884 cc1017-8
37. Mr. Blaker

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what progress has been made in concluding an association agreement with the ACP States.

39. Mr. Roper

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will make a statement on the present state of the negotiations on the European Development Fund and on the new convention with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Mr. John Grant

Ministers of the EEC and ACP countries held further discussions for three days last week on the terms of the new convention. They dis- cussed the trade régime, rules of origin and agricultural access, the proposed scheme of commodity stabilisation and financial and general aspects.

Progress was made towards resolving several difficult outstanding questions. The size of the European Development Fund has not yet been agreed.

Ministers will meet again in Brussels on 30th January with a view to initialling an agreement to be signed in Lome in February.

Mr. Blaker

Is it not one of the striking facts about the negotiations that a a unity of view is held by the African countries which have been taking part? Is it not clear that Mr. George Thomson was absolutely right when he made the point that since we joined the Community more has been achieved in creating solidarity between the French-speaking and English-speaking former dependent territories in Africa than was achieved in the 15 years of the Community's existence before we joined?

Mr. Grant

I shall not comment on Mr. Thomson's remarks. It is fair to say that there has been a striking degree of unity between ACP countries as a whole in the negotiations.

Mr. Roper

Is it the case that under the convention more than 90 per cent. of the exports of the 46 ACP countries will in future enter the Community countries of the Nine duty-free? Will the Minister tell us what progress has been made with my right hon. Friend's proposal that there should be a second development fund to cover countries outside the 46 ACP countries?

Mr. Grant

Under the original Community offer about 95 per cent. of ACP exports to the Community would benefit from duty-free and levy-free entry or reduced levies. But some further improvements—notably the terms of access for beef—have now been proposed and will be discussed further at the next conference. Secondly, my right hon. Friend has been pressing hard her proposal in Brussels. It will be discussed further by the Ministers concerned.

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