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Doha Trade Talks

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the latest round of Doha trade talks upon sustainable development and poverty reduction. (92949)

The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations were suspended in July by the director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and WTO General Council. This was due to a failure by the G6 countries (US, EU, Japan, Brazil, India and Australia) to reach an agreement on the core triangle of issues at the heart of the talks: market opening in the agricultural sector; cuts in subsidies paid to farmers; and increased market opening for industrial goods. While this suspension is disappointing, we will continue to press for the negotiations to be restarted at the earliest opportunity and to seek an ambitious outcome to the DDA.

We are committed to seeking to ensure that the DDA negotiations achieve the best impact for sustainable development and poverty reduction, by unlocking the development potential of trade and giving developing countries the flexibility to sequence the opening of their markets in line with their own national development plans and poverty reduction strategies. To help achieve this, DFID has supported a number of activities to increase understanding of the impact of the DDA on development and poverty reduction and to inform negotiations. These have included a study on the impact on developing countries of the various scenarios of non-agricultural market access being discussed in the DDA negotiations, as well as a collection of expert papers on the impacts of the DDA on trade and poverty. DFID also supports a comprehensive research programme by the World Bank that covers a range of trade issues and is aimed at supporting developing countries in the context of trade negotiations.

Our assessment is that the DDA remains the best opportunity to make progress towards the UK's long-term vision: a world trading system that is fair as well as free, with greater prosperity for developing and developed countries, resulting in reduced levels of global poverty.