Free Trade

International Development written question – answered on 7th December 2005.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to promote free trade; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

The UK Government are committed to the development of an open and rules-based international trading system that fulfils its potential to contribute to the reduction of poverty in poorer countries. Our key policy commitments on trade and development, as well as our objectives for the current Round of multilateral trade talks, are set out in the Government's White Papers, Making Globalisation a Force for Good (July 2004) and Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor (December 2000). The UK Government are working hard to support the poorest and most vulnerable producers, be it through multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or regional trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreements.

The UK Government do not support forced liberalisation or unfettered free trade but trade that is fair as well as free. The UK Government supports the view that developing countries need to decide on the timing, pace and sequencing of any market opening in line with their own national development and poverty reduction plans. In the context of the WTO negotiations we are firmly committed to ensuring that developing countries are given appropriate flexibility to adjust to trade reforms.

In the longterm, the removal of trade barriers, if managed properly, can help developing countries gain better access to developed country markets and more competitively priced inputs. By increasing Aid for Trade, (AFT) the UK hopes to help poorer countries seize the opportunities presented by more open markets. DFID will treble its support to £100 million a year by 2010 to help boost poor countries' capacity to trade. This shows the UK re-affirming the commitment at the G8 summit to help developing countries trade their way out of poverty.

At the WTO ministerial in Hong Kong we are working with international partners to deliver on the ambition of Doha and build on G8 commitments. The UK Government are working to achieve an outcome that delivers real gains for developing countries, including the poorest.

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