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World Trade Organisation

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 27th June 2012.

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Photo of Simon Kirby Simon Kirby Conservative, Brighton, Kemptown

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what programmes his Department has put in place to promote the World Trade Organisation and its round-table talks.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

In the Trade and Investment White Paper (February 2011), the coalition Government made clear our commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to the multilateral trading system and to completing the Doha Round of world trade talks. The UK was a vocal supporter of concluding the Doha Round, which would have delivered a huge boost to global trade and growth and we are very disappointed that it has not been possible to conclude the negotiations. The coalition Government will continue to work with the EU to push for agreement on those elements of the Round on which there has been good progress, particularly trade facilitation (removing obstacles to the movement of goods across borders), which would deliver significant benefits to all and particularly to developing countries.

We remain committed to the WTO, and in particular to strengthening elements of its regular business, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out in his report—“Governance for Growth”—to the G20 summit in Cannes in November 2011, and reiterated at the G20 summit in Los Cabos earlier this month. The WTO must remain central to the global trading system, to resist the rising trend in protectionist trade policies around the world, to settle trade disputes, and to be a forum to negotiate new trading rules. With Russia joining the WTO in the summer, the organisation will cover almost 100% of world trade, and the UK continues to press to make it easier for the poorest countries to join the WTO.

In terms of specific programmes related to the WTO, the UK is helping the poorest countries participate more effectively at the WTO under our Trade Advocacy Fund. This programme provides legal and technical assistance to help the poorest countries in multilateral and regional trade negotiations. The UK is also a major supporter of Aid for Trade programmes, especially in Africa, which assist poor countries to reap the benefits of global trade.

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