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Ms Hewitt: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me notice of his question; perhaps I can give him notice of my answer. I was not aware that there was a delegation from the Philippines here at the moment, but I will certainly ensure that my officials, and if possible one of the Ministers, speak directly to the delegation while we are in Doha. Because of my visit to the Philippines some time ago, I am well aware of both the terrorist problem and the trade problem to which my hon. Friend refers, and I hope that we will be able to make an advance in that respect through securing a new round of negotiations at Doha.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham): May I add my welcome for the Secretary of State's timely statement, and take the opportunity to reiterate my belief that an open and liberal trading system, strengthened by this round, is exactly the way to counter the present crisis of confidence in the international economy, and particularly to help developing countries to progress through trade, which, as she rightly says, is the primary objective of the new round? I also ask her to go a little further and condemn some of the weasel words of her fellow Trade Ministers and Commission officials in Europe, who are still
Finally, as the Secretary of State for International Development has joined her on the Front Bench, may I ask the right hon. Lady to emulate her colleague's forthright and occasionally courageous stance against some of the myths of the anti-globalisation movement, which are influential and do great damage? In particular, will she dismiss the fashionable myth that the World Trade Organisation exists to undermine public health and education, when it does nothing of the kind?
Ms Hewitt: I have already saidI made the point in a speech yesterdaythat well meaning though many, if not quite all, of them are, those who oppose world trade and the World Trade Organisation are doing a massive disservice to the people whom they believe they are helpingthe people of the poorest countries in the world. I offer one illustration of that fact. Thirty years ago South Korea was a far poorer country than Nigeria. Today the people of South Korea are 30 times richer than the people of Nigeria. One reason is the very different approach to world trade pursued not only by South Korea but by countries in other parts of south-east Asia.
I have also made it clear, publicly and privately, as have my right hon. Friends, that we in Europe must stop dragging our feet on agricultural reform. We know from our experience of the foot and mouth crisis that reform of our farming system and our farming subsidies is increasingly urgent. As I said in response to the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford, it is also essential, in the interests of enlargement of the European Union as well as the interests of people in developing countries, that we reduce those agricultural subsidies.
We are already committed, as a result of the Uruguay round, to phasing out the multi-fibre agreement on textiles. As far as investment and competition are concerned, we are seeking to strengthen the rules that will enable much greater foreign direct investmentnot speculative flowsin developing countries that urgently need that capital to improve their infrastructure.
Mr. Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South): What consideration has the United Kingdom given to its negotiating position in relation to these talks? About three key elements and objections have been raised from the south. First, it is inappropriate to enter a further round of World Trade Organisation negotiations when the north has not honoured the promises made to the south in the Uruguay round.
Secondly, what consideration has the Secretary of State given to the representations set out in the document produced and published yesterday by 20 UK NGOs, in conjunction with their sister organisations in the
Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend raises three important points. Although I understand the concerns of developing countries that we need to settle the implementation of the agreements entered into in the Uruguay round before embarking on a new one, I think that those concerns have, to a significant extent, been allayed by the progress that we have made, particularly in the past few weeks, on the outstanding implementation questions. About 100 of those issues have been considered in great detail in recent weeks in the World Trade Organisation and, in particular, between Commissioner Lamy and Ambassador Zoellick. At the recent meeting in Singapore, we made considerable progress on a first basket of implementation agreements addressing some of the most urgent concerns, and I believe that we can make substantial progress at Doha and in the context of a new round.
My hon. Friend referred to the concerns of the British NGOs, some of whom I met yesterday. We will, of course, have a representative of the development movement NGOs in the delegation, as well as representatives from the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress. However, let me underline the point that I made in response to an earlier question. Non-governmental and development organisations sometimes misrepresent what is going on and what we are seeking to achieve in a new round. It is important to draw attention to initiatives such as the everything but arms agreement which has been and will be of enormous benefit to the least developed countries of the world, and which we are seeking to extend substantially through the new negotiations.
Thirdly, I agree with my hon. Friend about the damage that is done to domestic agriculture sectors in developing countries by the dumping of subsidised agricultural produce produced in the developed world. That is one of the reasons why we are pushing so hard in the talks for agriculture reform.
Tony Baldry (Banbury): Will the Secretary of State comment on reports that, at a meeting of the least-developed countries group last week in Geneva, concern was expressed that none of those countries' input was getting through to the draft Doha declaration? At the same time, Stuart Harbison was saying that the draft declaration was now final. Given that, within the politics of the possible, progress on trade-related intellectual property will be slow, can the Secretary of State confirm that the $200 million that the Government are giving to the global health fund is not a one-off payment, and that there will be further contributions in the future? It would be good news if the Secretary of State for International Development could also confirm that.
The ability of the least-developed countries to contribute directly and to have their voice heard in the WTO negotiations is important. That is one of the reasons why my right hon. Friend has been increasing so substantially UK investment in capacity building in those countries, so that they can have a more effective voice in the WTO. I assure the hon. Gentleman that both my right hon. Friend and I will continue to ensure that the voice of those countries is heard during the negotiations in the week ahead.
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire): The third world needs access to resources, and measures to stop the further undermining of their economies. The Secretary of State will be aware that one proposal is that there should be an international tax on currency speculation, including chasing money in tax havenssomething we now say that we can do because of bin Laden. The tax is known as the Tobin tax, although Tobin himself may have gone off the idea a bit. Such a tax would dampen down speculation and raise massive resources. Should it not be discussed at the WTOat least in an exploratory formsince some Governments have begun to take it on board, and especially since Tobin initially thought that the WTO could be one of the avenues through which the tax could operate?
Ms Hewitt: As my hon. Friend rightly says, James Tobin seems to be rather sceptical about his idea, so we may have to rename the Tobin tax[Hon. Members: "The Barnes tax."] Indeed, the Barnes tax. Perhaps I can reassure my hon. Friend: as the Chancellor recently made clear, the proposal for a Tobin tax, or for some system that would raise revenue internationally and dedicate it to world development, is already being discussed, within ECOFIN at European level, and also internationally, in the United Nations and the OECD.