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Gatt

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will specify the final European Community proposals on agriculture in the Uruguay round of the general agreement on tariffs and trade; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.Along with other major participants in GATT, the European Community has now tabled outline proposals for long term reform of agricultural supported policies. The Community proposals are designed to meet the agreed objective of substantial and progressive reduction in support, over a period of time. The Community proposes a programme of reductions, measured against a 1986 starting level, on the basis of an aggregate measure of total support. Some changes in the operation of export subsidies and in the mechanisms of import protection are also envisaged. Ideas are put forward for the treatment of developing countries and for moves towards the harmonization of measures relating to animal and plant health.In Council discussions, I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs supported the Commission view that submission by the Community of a paper of this kind would make a helpful and constructive contribution to the Uruguay round negotiations as a whole.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the United States proposal within the Uruguay round in the general agreement on tariffs and trade for quantification in standard form of all aspects of agricultural support systems.

I have been asked to reply.A range of proposals have been tabled by the United States, EC and others in the negotiation. Several make reference to the possible use of an aggregate measure of support which can quantify the impact of a wide range of policies. The United Kingdom believes that an aggregate measure provides a useful negotiating tool which by placing countries on a common footing would facilitate an agreement to reduce support and protection worldwide.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what priority Her Majesty's Government attach to achieving a compromise between the respective positions taken by the United States of America and the European Community during the general agreement on tariffs and trade Uruguay round negotiations on agriculture; and what is his policy towards the Cairns group proposals for bridging the gap between the European Community and the United States of America.

I have been asked to reply.The Government strongly support the objectives of the agricultural negotiations within the current GATT Round. We are working closely with our Community partners and with other countries, including the United States, to achieve a successful outcome. The proposals of the Cairns group are an important and constructive contribution to the negotiations. All parties recognise that compromise will be needed to achieve success.