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EC External Trade

Volume 459: debated on Friday 20 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has (a) made to the EU and (b) received on the negotiations on economic partnership agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. (132066)

The Government are working closely with the European Commission who are negotiating economic partnership agreements on behalf of the EU, EU member states and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. They listen carefully to the views of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) while doing so to ensure that these agreements are truly development-focused and designed to deliver long-term development, economic growth and poverty reduction in ACP countries.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is leading the UK representation on these negotiations supported in its work by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Recent representations:

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development met with ACP Ministers and negotiators in November 2006.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade met NGOs on 11 January. He and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, meet with them three to four times a year.

As part of the Trade Policy Consultative Forum my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade meets quarterly with NGOs and the business community to discuss a variety of trade policy issues—Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) usually feature on the agenda; the next meeting will be in May.

DTI and DFID officials met with Richard Bernal, Caribbean negotiator, on 14 March.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development met with ACP and EU Ministers in Bonn on 1 March at the EU-ACP Joint Ministerial Trade Committee.

DTI officials met with Peter Thompson, Director-General Trade in charge of EPAs on 26 March.

UK officials have discussions with the Commission and other EU member states on a daily basis/at/around ACP and 133 meetings and in the margins.

Also, UK officials meet with officials from other member states on a quarterly basis.

DTI, DFID and FCO officials met with NGOs on 17 April.