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World Trade Negotiations

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to promote the interests of developing countries in world trade negotiations; and if she will make a statement. [130821]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made a statement to the House on Wednesday 17 September 2003, Official Report, columns 861–63 and I refer the hon. Member to that statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she will make at Cancun with respect to improving property ownership structures and recognition in developing countries. [130036]

[holding answer 16 September 2003]: The Government have always made clear that the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) should provide real benefits for developing countries. We took the opportunity of the World Trade Organisation Ministerial talks in Cancun to press for progress in the various trade and development issues contained in the DDA.I refer my hon. Friend to the oral statement made in the House on 17 September.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether (a) the EU Commissioner and (b) she asked the Chairman to reconsider the closure of the WTO meeting at Cancun. [131246]

I and a number of EU colleagues asked Commissioner Lamy at a meeting of the EU Council on Sunday to urge the Chairman to reconsider the closure of the conference. The EU along with other WTO members felt that with more time, it would have been possible to reach an agreement which would have benefited both developing and developed countries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the United Kingdom tried to change the EU policy at the Cancun Summit in the light of the views of developing countries. [131247]

The UK played a major role in supporting the EU's negotiating mandate at Cancun. We were able to use our particular links with Commonwealth countries and others to understand their concerns and to explain to them the EU position and vice versa. We and others were able to relay to the Commission the concerns which some developing countries had on some issues e.g. the Singapore issues. I myself have for some time made it clear publicly and privately that, while I strongly support developing countries receiving more foreign direct investment, it is not a priority of this government to launch negotiations on an investment agreement.It was Commissioner Lamy who took the decision, with agreement of all EU members states to drop the proposal to launch negotiations on the WTO agreements on investment and competition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the United Kingdom delegation to the Cancun Summit departed from the EU line during the plenary sessions. [131248]

No. We fully supported the EU position during the plenary sessions at Cancun.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she had with the EU Trade Commissioner during the course of the Cancun Summit. [131249]

I met Commissioner Lamy at two European Councils. I also had informal discussions with him.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the cost to the UK economy of the recent collapse of the talks at the World Trade Organisation Fifth Ministerial in Cancun. [131254]

The lack of progress at Cancun was disappointing, but it does not mean that the Doha Development Round of trade liberalisation is over.The benefits to developing and developed world economies from a successful round which achieves real liberalisation are considerable.A number of studies have attempted to quantify these gains. The size of the estimated gains vary significantly depending on, among other things, the scale of liberalisation assumed to be implemented, the timing of liberalisation and the range of benefits taken into account.These studies do not separately identify the effects on the UK economy, but they do suggest that the EU as a whole would benefit from trade liberalisation. A study by the European Commission

1 , for example, estimated the gains to the EU from a global 50 per cent. cut in

protection would be in the region of $92 billion. A reasonable assumption is that the gains to the UK would be roughly proportional to our share of EU GDP and external trade (around 17 per cent.). This would imply annual income gains in the region of $16 billion. Another study by Michigan University2 suggests that global elimination of trade barriers could increase EU incomes by as much as $500 billion. Again, assuming the UK gains proportionately, this could mean an annual boost to UK incomes of over $70 billion. The benefits would feed through gradually as liberalisation is implemented in many scenarios taking over a decade.

In addition, a successful round of trade liberalisation is likely to have a more immediate effect by providing a boost to global economic confidence. The scale of this benefit is impossible to predict but would certainly be considerable.

1 The Millennium Round: An economic appraisal by Nigel Nagarajan 1999.
2 "CGE Modelling and Analysis of Multilateral and Regional Negotiating Options" Drusilla Brown, Alan Deardoff and Robert Stern Michigan Discussion Paper number 468 2001.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on her attendance at the Fifth World Trade Organisation Ministerial held recently in Cancun. [131255]

I made a full statement to the House, on my attendance at the recent 5th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference held in Cancun, on Wednesday 17 September.