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Trade (Agricultural Products)

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the Government will support efforts to ensure that poor countries can protect agricultural products that are important in terms of (a) food security and (b) rural livelihoods; and what plans the Government have to (i) press for reductions i n tariffs for these products and (ii) set limits on the numbers of products that can be protected. [108531]

As part of the current WTO negotiations on agriculture, the Chair of the WTO agriculture negotiations committee, Stuart Harbinson, produced draft agriculture modalities, which included two key proposals aimed at promoting and protecting developing countries' food security and rural livelihoods:

  • 1. developing countries should be allowed to designate a certain number of agricultural products as 'special products' and only minimum tariff reductions would be required on these; and
  • 2. a new special safeguard should be introduced to enable developing countries to protect developing country producers against import surges.
  • The UK Government and the Commission, who negotiate in the WTO on behalf of all EU member states, fully support both these proposals. There will be further technical work on these proposals over the next few months focusing on the detail. The UK Government will contribute fully to that process.