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Trade (Africa)

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 5 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to tackle trade barriers (a) between African countries and the United Kingdom and (b) between African countries; and if she will make a statement. [116626]

The UK is working through the EU for a fairer international trading system for all WTO members, with a particular emphasis on developing countries. To maximise the benefits of trade to all African countries the Government are working for the elimination of trade barriers both between themselves and with the EU. This needs to be done in a carefully sequenced manner, together with appropriate complementary policies so that the benefits of freer trade are maximised. The Government are working in partnership with developing countries, the EU and multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, to help developing countries capture new trading opportunities and thus trade their way out of poverty.In addition, in terms of tackling trade barriers between Africa and the EU, there are several complementary agreements between the EU and Africa. With South Africa there is the EU-South Africa Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement, which provisionally came into force in 2000 and which aims to create a free trade area between the EU and South Africa over 12 years. In the North there is the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership which aims to establish a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area with 12 Mediterranean Partner Countries, four of which are in North Africa, by 2010.For Sub-Saharan Africa under the "Everything But Arms" initiative all products from the 32 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) already have duty and quota-free access to the EU, with phase in periods for bananas, sugar and rice.Finally, the UK hopes that the recently launched negotiations under the Cotonou Agreement for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific. (ACP) countries, including all African countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), will play a significant role in reducing trade barriers between African countries themselves and with the EU. As a result of the negotiations the UK would like to see an outcome which gave all ACP countries duty and quota-free access to the EU.