HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 c854W
Mrs. Lawrence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the role of international trade in the reduction of poverty in the poorest countries. [60559]

Ruth Kelly

In the last 40 years those developing countries which have managed to be more open and trade more in the world economy have seen faster growth rates than those which have remained closed. From the early 1970s to the early 1990s, developing countries that were able to pursue growth through trade grew at least twice as fast as those that kept their tariffs high and their doors closed to imports and competition.

Full trade liberalisation could lift at least 300 million people out of poverty by 2015. Even diminishing protection by 50 per cent. in agriculture and in industrial goods and services would increase the world's yearly income by nearly $400 billion: a boost to growth of 1.4 per cent. All countries and regions stand to benefit, with developing countries gaining an estimated $150 billion a year and higher than average increases in GDP growth.

The WTO's new trade round, referred to as the Doha Development Agenda, contains a package of commitments to progress in areas that will lead to major gains for developing countries and the poorest people in these countries.

We need an approach which ensures that Poverty and Social Impact Assessments are undertaken of key reforms, including trade, to ensure that policy options and trade-offs are discussed, and that reforms are properly designed. Where negative consequences exist, appropriate measures should be put in place to protect vulnerable countries and people from an overly rapid transition to a system of liberalised trade. The IMF and World bank have committed to undertake Poverty and Social Impact Assessments of reforms, and to promote the integration of trade into developing countries' poverty reduction strategies. We are working hard to support this process.