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Ministerial Conference (Cancun)

Volume 407: debated on Friday 20 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) UK and (b) EU priorities for the Fifth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Cancun in September are. [119004]

[holding answer 13 June 2003]: The mid-Round Ministerial Conference in Cancun is our main opportunity to provide increased political momentum towards a successful outcome to the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) by the current target of 1 January 2005.The UK and EU priority for Cancun is to seek an outcome which keeps all aspects of the DDA negotiations on track and within the single undertaking.As part of the DDA we are determined to reform agricultural trade, as agreed at Doha, by substantially improving market access, substantially reducing trade distorting domestic farm support and reducing, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies, which do so much harm to developing countries.On market access for non-agricultural goods we will be seeking significantly improved access market by tackling high tariffs, tariff peaks, tariff escalation and non-tariff barriers, in order to significantly increase trading opportunities for all WTO members, including between developing countries.We are hopeful that the services negotiations will bring considerable market opportunities for business as well as benefits to consumers world-wide. However, we are not seeking general deregulation or privatisation of sectors where principles of public interest are at stake, such as healthcare, education and the provision of water.We are committed to finding solutions to justified developing countries' concerns about implementation of existing WTO agreements, to their proposals for specific actions for Special and Differential Treatment and to providing trade-related assistance to help their participation in WTO negotiations, to implement the results of the DDA, and to build up their trade capacity.We believe that launching negotiations on the "Singapore Issues" (investment, competition, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation) at Cancun will help provide predictability, transparency, secure market access gains, and level a playing field for all WTO members.In addition, we strongly welcome G8 leaders' commitment to securing a resolution to the issue of access to affordable medicines for developing countries, before Cancun.