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Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden 6:17 pm, 30th March 2009

We collectively make decisions on trade in Europe—that may or may not be a good thing; it is not what I am arguing. If we want to liberalise access to the British market, we must persuade the EU to liberalise access collectively to the European market. I believe that there is a consensus on that, as reflected by the cross-party composition of Trade Out of Poverty, and I hope that Conservative and Labour Front Benchers will support that consensus and a move in the direction that I am outlining.

Secondly, we should simplify and make more generous the rules of origin and other trade rules that we operate. Trade increasingly involves chains of production, with a series of processes and components from a variety of countries. It is vital that African countries are enabled to participate in those chains of production. For example, America, through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, liberalised its rules of origin, which resulted in a marked increase in exports of clothing from Africa to America. Rules of origin matter.

Thirdly, we must end subsidies that damage trade and inhibit exports from the poorest countries to ours. My hon. Friend John Bercow mentioned the $3 billion or more subsidies that the Americans offer to maintain only 25,000 cotton manufacturing jobs—that is more than $120,000 a job. It would be easier to give those people—not all of them, only those whose product has to be dumped abroad—a stipend for a while and let them move into other activities. That dumping destroys millions of jobs and undermines millions of people's income, especially in west Africa.

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