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Common Fund

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what estimate has been made of the loss or gain to the United Kingdom balance of payments of the Common Fund proposals for commodity stabilisation; what commodities will be covered by these proposals; and who will administer the Common Fund.

At the recent UNCTAD Common Fund Conference there was a wide measure of consensus that the aim of a fund should be to stabilise commodity prices around longer-term market trends. On such a basis the long-term effect on the United Kingdom balance of trade would be neutral. The financial structure, commodity coverage, and management of a fund would depend on further negotiations which, as I replied today to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), it is proposed should be resumed later this year.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the outcome of the negotiating conference on a common fund which was held in Geneva.

The United Nations Negotiating Conference on a Common Fund ended on 3rd April. The conference did not adopt a formal decision or resolution. Instead the chairman, Ambassador Walker of Jamaica, made a statement in which he summed up his understanding of the principal developments during the session and invited the conference to reconvene not later than November this year.Following is the Chairman's statement:

  • "1. This Conference was convened in pursuance of resolution 93 (IV) for the negotiation of a Common Fund under the Integrated Programme for Commodities.
  • 2. During the course of the negotiations the developing countries affirmed their unanimous commitment to the establishment of a Common Fund, to serve as the main instrument for attaining the objectives of the Integrated Programme for Commodities as embodied in Conference Resolution 93 (IV) and to function as the central source of finance for specific objectives and purposes as outlined in a preliminary way in Annex I to document TD/B/IPC/CT/8. In this context, the Group of 77 also submitted to the Conference the draft decision contained in TD/IPC/CP/CONF/CW/L.1.
  • 3. China supported the proposals made by the developing countries. Some Group B countries supported, or were prepared to support, the proposals made by the developing countries, while a number of developed countries also expressed their readiness to participate in and financially support a Common Fund.
  • 4. Group B submitted a discussion paper in Annex I to TD/B/IPC/CP/6 and a provisional position paper in TD/IPC/CP/CONF/L.3.
  • 5. The countries members of the European Economic Community agreed that there should be a Common Fund. Other developed countries stated that they were prepared to consider, with a positive and open attitude, the establishment of a common funding arrangement.
  • 6. The countries members of Group D agreed in principle with the idea of a Common Fund in the framework of the Integrated Programme for Commodities.
  • 7. Although it was not possible to proceed further at this session, it appears to me that there is a large consensus that a Common Fund should be established in accordance with resolution 93 (IV) to serve as a main instrument of the Integrated Programme for Commodities. In the light of this, there is agreement that the Conference reconvene at a plenipotentiary level to complete its work.
  • 8. Taking into account the urgency which the Conference attaches to this work and the time-table agreed upon in Nairobi it would seem desirable that the Conference should reconvene not later than November 1977. To this end the Secretary-General of UNCTAD is requested:
  • (1) to propose specific dates for the reconvened session of the Conference for approval by the Trade and Development Board at the second part of its sixteenth session;
  • (2) to make the necessary arrangements in the light of the decision of the Trade and Development Board;
  • (3) to conduct such consultations as may be appropriate in order to facilitate the work of the reconvened Conference, in consultation with the President of the Conference and taking into account the terms of reference and the programme of work of the ad hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Integrated Programme for Commodities."