HC Deb 18 September 2003 vol 410 c875W
Mr. Redwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment she has made of the attitude of the developing countries to the EU's Singapore issues. [131253]

Ms Hewitt

The EU does not have exclusive ownership of the Singapore issues, all WTO Members agreed to include it as part of the Doha Development Agenda in 2001.

Although we have supported the EU in its mandate on the Singapore issues, we have always made clear that concerns of developing countries need to be taken into account—especially in respect of negotiating capacity. I myself have for some time made it clear, both publicly and privately, that while I strongly support more foreign direct investment going to developing countries, it is not a priority of this government to launch negotiations on an investment agreement.

At Cancun, the Commission were made aware of developing country concerns on the proposed WTO agreements on investment and competition. On the final day of the Ministerial Conference, Commissioner Lamy, with the backing of the EU delegations, offered to drop the proposal to start negotiations on WTO investment and competition agreements completely.