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Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what was the outcome of the second preparatory meeting on tea held in Geneva on 10 to 13 December 1979; and if he will make a statement;

  • (2) what steps are being taken by Her Majesty's Government to bring about an early and successful conclusion of an international tea agreement equitable to consumers and remunerative to producers;
  • (3) whether Her Majesty's Government support proposals by the tea-exporting developing countries of an international tea agreement within a price range of 106p to 120p a kilo;
  • (4) whether Her Majesty's Government support the recent agreement between tea exporters in the Indian Sub-continent and East Africa based on quotas and a buffer stock within the context of the international tea agreement.
  • The second preparatory meeting on tea had before it outline proposals put forward by producer countries for an international agreement based on export quotas and a limited buffer stock. There was a general expression of appreciation for the efforts made by producer countries to reach a consensus among themselves and agreement that the proposals should be considered in detail. It was accepted, however, that before participating countries could consider taking a position on the proposals as a whole or on particular elements, including possible mechanisms and price levels, more preparatory work needed to be done.To this end the proposals will be examined further by producer countries, with the assistance of the UNCTAD and FAO secretariats, at a seminar early this year. The meeting agreed that a further session of the intergovernmental group of experts would be held in the summer followed immediately by the third preparatory meeting.The United Kingdom, in line with the Government's view that tea is a commodity suitable for an international agreement, will continue to participate fully in efforts to reach an agreement acceptable to consumers and producers.