[Ann Winterton in the Chair] — Economic Partnership Agreements

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:45 pm on 8th June 2006.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party 2:45 pm, 8th June 2006

We have made clear our view that unless the six negotiating blocs want the Singapore issues to be part of the negotiations, they should not be part of them. It is clear that all the negotiating blocs are keen to discuss trade facilitation, which is one of the Singapore issues, and that at least one bloc—the Caribbean—wants a discussion about investment. It must be for the negotiating teams of the six blocs to decide whether they want to discuss the so-called Singapore issues. If they do not, we are clear that they should not be forced to have those discussions. That is the position that, increasingly, other member states are taking. However, when negotiating teams are up for those discussions—and given the benefits that agreement on those issues could bring to their economies—they should be supported in their negotiations. It is for the negotiating teams to make that call.