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Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what measures her Department has established to manage better the international supply of coffee. [117075]

We share the concern for the way that coffee growers and coffee growing countries have been hit by low prices due largely to global over supply and structural imbalances in the industry.It is however important to recognise that coffee is traded on a free market and it is unlikely that attempts to intervene in the international coffee market to manage supply will be successful. The UK does however, support act ion to improve the sustainability of the coffee supply chain and to improve co-operation between all market participants. The UK is a member, through the EU, of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), a United Nations body established to, among other things, "achieve a reasonable balance between world supply and demand on a basis which will assure adequate supplies of coffee at fair prices to consumers and markets for coffee at remunerative prices to producers".UK Government officials regularly attend meetings of the ICO. They also meet with representatives of the coffee trade, other interested organisations and other Government Departments with an interest in coffee matters to pursue other approaches to reducing the vulnerability of poor people and poor countries dependent upon coffee.