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Written Statements

Volume 588: debated on Wednesday 19 November 2014

Written Statements

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Business, Innovation and Skills

EU Foreign Affairs Council (Pre Council Statement)

My noble Friend the Under- Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for intellectual property (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has today made the following statement:

The EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) will take place in Brussels on 21 November 2014. Baroness Neville-Rolfe will represent the UK on all the issues on the agenda.

There will be two substantive items on the agenda:

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the European Council amending European Council regulation (EC) No 1225/2009 on how to protect the European Union against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Community. (Dumped goods are those imported into the European Union at unfairly low prices which cause significant harm to European competitors); and European Council regulation (EC) No 597/2009 on protecting European companies against subsidised imports from countries not members of the European Community.

The European Commission proposed a trade defence (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy) instruments modernisation package in April 2013. This comprises regulatory and non-regulatory proposals, on issues such as the period of notice of imposition of trade defence measures, reimbursement of duties paid by importers when measures are not renewed, and increased assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the European Council making it easier for non-EU goods and services to enter the European Union’s internal market in public procurement, and procedures supporting negotiations to make it easier for European Union goods and services to enter the public procurement markets of non-EU countries. This is an orientation debate on a proposal that aims to restrict the access of non-EU countries to our domestic procurement markets where they do not open their markets to ours.

We also expect updates or discussions on the following non-legislative items:

The latest state of play with the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Development Agenda trade round (which aims to improve the trading prospects of all countries but particularly developing countries) in view of the agreement reached between the US and India on the decision on stockpiling for food security purposes; and the latest state of play on the implementation of the trade facilitation agreement (streamlining of customs and trade procedures) agreed in Bali in December.

EU-US TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) free trade agreement negotiations aimed at reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade between the EU and the US;

Negotiations on an EU economic partnership agreement with Japan aimed at reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade between the EU and Japan;

Negotiations on an EU-Vietnam free trade agreement aimed at reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade between the EU and Vietnam.

Defence

Defence Support Group

I informed the House on 31 March that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was launching the sale of the Defence Support Group’s land business. Following a strong competition, I am pleased to announce that Babcock Land Ltd has been selected as the preferred bidder. I will make a further statement to the House with final details of the transaction in the new year, after a contract has been signed.

I also informed the House in March that the MOD would be retaining the Defence Support Group’s air business, the Electronics and Components Business Unit (ECBU). I am pleased to announce that ECBU will become the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA), a new MOD Trading Agency, from 1 April 2015.

DECA will continue to provide support to a diverse range of electronic, avionic and mechanical equipment for both fixed wing and rotary platforms. This will include the provision of a specialist avionics obsolescence management capability. DECA’s Trading Agency model, based on an executive agency, will allow it to continue trading with the MOD and industry customers in a similar way to how the ECBU currently operates within the Defence Support Group.