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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will adopt a total trade ban on Belarus in response to malpractice in the presidential elections. (80607)

Our trade relations with Belarus are conducted through the EU. All EU restrictions imposed in response to the fraudulent presidential elections are designed to target the regime, not the people of Belarus. As such, a unilateral trade ban in response to the fraudulent elections is not being considered at the moment.

Separately, Belarus faces possible withdrawal of the general system of preferences (GSP)—the system of preferential trading arrangements through which the EU extends preferential access to its markets to developing countries. Eligibility for GSP benefits depends on International Labour Organisation monitoring of labour standards and an investigation last year uncovered serious and systematic violations.