HC Deb 09 November 1977 vol 938 cc659-60
34. Mr. Farr

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he expects the EEC to adhere to the International Sugar Agreement recently signed by 72 countries; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Judd

At the United Nations Sugar Conference, which ended on 7th October, the draft of a new International Sugar Agreement was concluded, and it has been open for signature since 28th October. The agreement contains a specific provision under which the EEC can accede on special terms to be negotiated. I hope that these negotiations can begin as soon as possible with a view to participation by the EEC in the agreement.

Mr. Farr

Whilst thanking the Minister for that reply, in view of the failure of the EEC to sign the previous International Sugar Agreement and the paramount importance of such an agreement to sugar producers of the Third World, may I ask him to use his best endeavours to secure Community signature to prevent the disposal of unwanted sugar, which could disrupt world prices?

Mr. Judd

The hon. Gentleman will agree that the Government have made clear on several occasions during recent months the paramount importance, as he puts it, of this agreement, particularly to a number of developing countries. We are determined to do all we can to facilitate an early agreement with the EEC and others.

Mr. Spearing

Will my hon Friend confirm that the agreement includes an offsetting amount of 1.4 million tonnes imported from the Third World, and does he agree that, even with this, the likelihood of the dumping of EEC sugar on world markets is very great? Will my hon. Friend tell the House the likely maximum amount that could be dumped and what is the Government's attitude to this?

Mr. Judd

There is a danger of dumping, and we want to make sure that there is not dumping at the expense of the economies of the developing countries. The details of the arrangements between the EEC and the other signatories to the agreement have yet to be finalised.