HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 c185W
Sir Alastair Goodlad

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with (i) the Department of Trade and Industry (ii) the WTO and (iii) multilateral and bilateral aid donors about ways to achieve further reductions in trade barriers faced by LDCs; and if she will make a statement. [40150]

Clare Short

UK policy towards elimination of barriers to trade for Least Developed Countries is set out in the Government's White Paper on International Development published in November 1997. The UK has taken a lead within Europe and internationally (including through the G8) in pushing for the elimination of tariffs on imports from the least developed countries (LDCs) and for eventual agreement to eliminate tariffs within a bound WTO scheme. A number of member states made commitments to extend their market access for LDCs at the WTO hosted High Level Meeting for LDCs in October last year. Progress will be reviewed at the WTO Ministerial in May this year.

Under the UK Presidency agreement has been reached within the EU to extend market access to the imports of the nine non-ACP LDCs on terms similar to those available under the Lomé Convention. The UK see this as a first step and will continue to press for duty-free access to the EU market for all Least Developed Countries. In addition the UK recognises that complex rules of origin can act as a constraint on taking up preferential access. The UK is therefore pressing for an EU commitment to simplify and harmonise the EU preferential origin rules.