HC Deb 13 June 2003 vol 406 cc347-8W
Stephen Hesford

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to promote the interests of developing countries in the world trade round. [115518]

Ms Hewitt

Developing countries have a significant interest in the Doha Development Agenda. Halving protection in agriculture, industrial goods and services around the world could boost developing country incomes by around $150 billion a year. Substantial trade liberalisation could reduce the number of people living in poverty by over 300 million by 2015—a significant contribution to reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals.

To achieve this we are working for a fairer international trading system for all WTO members with a particular emphasis on developing countries. In particular the Government is committed to working with our EU and other international partners to ensure that real and meaningful increases in market access in agriculture, and other areas of particular interest to developing countries, are agreed in the current WTO trade negotiations. At the same time the Government fully recognises that developing countries require trade related technical assistance and capacity building to increase their ability to participate effectively in the WTO. The Government has committed £45 million specifically for this and other trade-related initiatives since 1998.

The Government recognises that trade reform can have adverse effects on particular groups particularly in the short run. The Government supports implementing policies in careful sequence so that developing countries efforts to liberalise trade maximise the potential benefits and minimise the costs of trade reform. The Government supports an approach to the current WTO negotiations that recognises that WTO members are at different stages of development and have different capacities to implement WTO rules. To help countries manage their commitments, we are pressing for Special and Differential Treatment provisions to be real and binding and for any new WTO rules to reflect countries implementation capacities.