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Developing Countries

Volume 407: debated on Friday 20 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are in place to ensure that British companies investing in developing countries will (a) be there as the result of invitations by people in the developing countries, (b) give employment to local people, (c) pay reasonable rates to those people and not exploit them and (d) not compete with existing practices in a way that undermines people's livelihoods. [120403]

In terms of encouraging and monitoring standards of good conduct by British companies in overseas markets, the Government attach considerable importance to the various voluntary multilateral initiatives that promote the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) such as the Global Reporting Initiative, the Ethical Trading Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.In terms of the issues raised above, the Guidelines are particularly relevant. These address, in specific sections, areas of business responsibility and good practice that include such subjects as general policies, employment

ECGD Claims Payments 1997–98 to 2002–03
Sterling equivalent
Country1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–022002–03Grand total
Cote D'Ivoire154,9176,549,0893,251,2663,486,0803,651,5283,475,65720,568,536
El Salvador1,816,204600,9522,417,156
Iran (Islamic Republic of)37,71737,717

and industrial relations, consumer interests and competition. The Government, by means of the UK National Contact Point, encourage strongly companies' involvement in and adherence to the Guidelines; which are supported by the business community and trade union federations.

The Government expect companies operating in the UK and UK companies investing overseas, to act in accordance with the principles set out in the Guidelines and to perform to at least the standards they suggest.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure that international trade works in the interests of both developing and developed countries. [120404]

The World Bank estimates that eliminating all barriers to trade in goods could generate an extra US$250 billion to US$620 billion in global income, up to half of which would go to developing countries. In terms of poverty reduction, this could lift over 300 million people out of poverty by 2015.This is why the Government are ambitious about pursuing the development agenda for the current round of trade talks launched at the fourth WTO ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001.I am working closely with Cabinet colleagues, as well as within the EU and internationally, to secure a successful outcome to the fifth WTO ministerial in Cancun, Mexico this September. We are committed to making sure that the Doha round delivers real benefits for the world's poor.