HC Deb 09 January 2001 vol 360 c479W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's role in the current GATS negotiations. [143086]

Clare Short

My Department is helping to build the capacity of developing countries to participate effectively in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations. DFID is contributing to a World Bank Programme on Trade in Services, providing data and information to help developing countries formulate policy for the negotiations. In addition, officials are in the process of drawing up specific proposals to support representatives of developing countries in Geneva responsible for the trade in services issues.

My officials also work closely with other Whitehall Departments to ensure that UK and EU policy on trade in services has a strong development dimension. A successful outcome from the current negotiations on the GATS would offer a number of benefits for developing countries. They could potentially increase their income from individual service sectors, for example, tourism. In addition, progress on issues such as the "movement of persons" (the ability for nationals to work overseas for a temporary period) would offer developing countries new opportunities for export of services. Increased competition in the provision of domestic services which support a country's basic infrastructure, e.g. banking, transport and telecommunications, will contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

The current negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) offer developing countries the potential to gain access to new markets overseas and to benefit from more efficient and competitive services at home. Developing countries are particularly interested in the liberalisation of sectors where they have the greatest export potential; at present tourism services and movement of persons (i.e. the ability for personnel to spend some time overseas for the purposes of providing a specific service).

We are helping developing countries to participate in the new GATS negotiations, so that world trade in services better contributes to their economic growth and thereby the elimination of poverty.

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