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Ms Hewitt: There is no doubt that one real difficulty in reaching agreement at Doha was the sense among so many developing countries that they had been sold a pupbetrayedin the Uruguay round. What makes this round so differentI referred to this in my statementis the effectiveness with which the developing countries, which after all represent more than two thirds of WTO membership, are working together, concerting their negotiating objectives and strategies. There is now a much greater basis of trust between the developing and developed countries, but there is also a very clear requirement for developed countries to meet the commitments that we made at Doha and to fulfil the expectations that we raised. If we do not do so, that trust will be destroyed.
On agriculture, the declaration that we agreed yesterday states that of course there is no prejudging of the outcome of negotiations. We were agreeing the terms of reference of new trade negotiations; we were not seeking to have those negotiations at Doha. To say that we were not prejudging the outcome of those negotiations is merely a statement of the obvious.
The negotiations will be about reductions in agricultural export subsidies, among other matters, with a view to their phasing out. That is very clear language. It was not only supported by all European Union member states but it has raised clear expectations in developing countries, where access to developed markets in agricultural products is essential to their farmers and all those who depend on them. We shall have to meet those expectations. That means that there is enormous pressure on the EU, added to the pressure from the prospects of enlargement, for radical reform of the CAP.
I am not aware of any such comments being made by the Trade Commissioner. Not only over the past week but in preceding months, I have observed outstanding work from Commissioner Lamy in negotiating with immense skill and toughness on behalf of all EU members.
Ms Hewitt: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those comments. The NGOs certainly played a very helpful role in almost every case in enabling us to achieve such a good outcome. Negotiations will begin early in the new year. There is a two-year time scale of preparatory work for the new issuesnotably investment and competitionand, if I remember correctly, a five-year time scale for the negotiations themselves. I agree that the priority should be to deal with market access barriers and tariffs on both agricultural and industrial products and services, which are of particular importance to developing countries.
Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): I thank the right hon. Lady for her statement and the access that she gave all of us in Doha. She not only talked to us but listened to us. Will she thank the Minister for the Environment, who was the only Environment Minister from the European Union to be present? He played an important part in pressing environmental issues. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is remarkable how many environmental issues were included in the statement, and that none of us expected to do as well? Is it not true that that is very much the result of the work of the EU, working as a united force, without which such agreement could not have been achieved? The commissioner concerned showed a steadfastness that very few of us expected. He, too, ought to be congratulated on his work.
Ms Hewitt: The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; it was a pleasure to see him in Doha. I am very pleased that he singled out the breakthrough that we have made on of the environment. I believe that we would not have made such a breakthrough had it not been for the EU. We were the ones pressing for serious attention to be paid to environmental matters. The persistence of Commissioner Lamy on that matter was excellent. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the importance of the EU will be noted with great interest in the more Eurosceptic sections of his party.
Denzil Davies (Llanelli): Will my right hon. Friend say when negotiations on reducing export subsidies on agricultural products are likely to start, who will be negotiating on behalf of the United Kingdom and whether there is some deadline for them to end to prevent the French dragging them out ad infinitum?
Ms Hewitt: In responding to my right hon. Friend's question, I shall correct a point that I made a minute ago. In fact, the declaration commits us to concluding negotiations by 1 January 2005. In other words, there is a three-year time scale for all the negotiations to which we
Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire): I add my welcome for the positive outcome and the statement of the Secretary of State. Will she amplify the implications of phasing and the timetable? I understand that there is a commitment to a fifth WTO ministerial conference in 2003. I asked a question on investment and competition policy when the Secretary of State made a statement before the conference. The implication is that some of those matters will be prepared for the formal opening of negotiations at the fifth conference. Does that mean that there is a risk of some loss of linkage between those matters and, for example, the tightening of rules on anti-dumping measures and the reduction of industrial tariffs? Or will we be able to make sure that progress on one is directly linked to progress on investment and competition?
Ms Hewitt: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. As I said earlier, we agreed that there will be two years of preparatory work on investment and competition. We have an enormous amount to do to ensure that all members of the WTO have a common understanding of the framework of investment and competition rules that is required, particularly to increase foreign direct investment in developing countries.
That will take two years, then there will be a report to the fifth ministerial conference in 2003 with a view to opening negotiations on those matters, subject to consensus on the modality of negotiations, to use WTO-speak. As that preparatory work proceeds, we will need to ensure that it runs in parallel with, and is related to, work going on in the substantive negotiations themselves.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire): Clearly, developing nations need access to developed nations' markets. A great deal in my right hon. Friend's statement shows that that is under way; that is most welcome. What about the other side of the coin and the markets of underdeveloped nations? They often need protection to develop their own productive forces and may need to be in agreement with one another about, for example, the sale of primary products, which may be seen as anti-competitive according to certain arguments. Were the principles that I am propounding taken into account at the WTO conference?
Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Running through our discussions and the declaration is a commitment to take into account the particular needs of developing countries including, above all, the least developed countries and small countries. The concerns of my hon. Friend will indeed be taken on board.
Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch): If the words "without prejudging the outcome" only state the obvious, why does the Secretary of State think that the French spent so much time insisting that they should be included
Kali Mountford (Colne Valley): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her statement, in which she mentioned 11 September and its impact on the talks. Given that that was the background music to the talks, is she confident that the agreements made on behalf of developing nations, particularly on the matters raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes), will stick once the music fades and that we will see genuine improvements in trade so that countries can trade their way to a further economic base?
Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend makes an important point. The background of world events was uppermost in everybody's mind at Doha. I have no doubt at all that the events of 11 September and the conflict in Afghanistan made it easier, in a sense, to reach an agreement; there was even more understanding of the importance of doing so at the conference. I am certain that the agreement will stick, provided, as I said earlier, that the developed countries live up to the commitments that we made in the declarations. I know that the Government, for one, intend to do so.