HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc18-9
33. Mr. Ian Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Minister for Overseas Development had during her visit to the Caribbean.

Mrs. Chalker

I had wide-ranging discussions with the Prime Ministers of Barbados, Grenada, Dominica and St. Vincent and their Ministers and senior officials. I was very impressed with our projects and those of the Commonwealth Development Corporation and other agencies. The high commission and development division are working well in each island.

Mr. Taylor

I am grateful for that answer. Were the various countries concerned with the state of the Single European Act and with the implications of the European Community on their trade? If there is no access to their goods, there may be further pressure on the aid agencies in this country to assist them. Do we have any common ground with the French?

Mrs. Chalker

I discussed the possibility of diversified agricultural production with each island and especially with Miss Charles, the Prime Minister of Dominica. We are helping the islands through current projects to maximise opportunities for export earnings as well as encouraging the European Community to deal properly with the bananas after 1992. The United Kingdom is committed to effective preferential access arrangements for our traditional suppliers. We have already put a paper to the Commission, but the paper proposed by the French seems not to offer what the Caribbean banana producers need and it would involve a substantial levy, which we do not believe is the way forward.

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