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World Trade Organisation

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his foreign counterparts on whether World Trade Organisation rules hinder prohibitions or other measures preventing child labour.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

None. The Government has no current plans to review the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements, which are based on the core principle of non-discrimination and are fit for purpose in terms of regulating international trade. The International Labour Organisation is the correct forum to deal with labour standards and regularly collaborates with the WTO.

Incentives to tackle child labour are built into the trade agreements, of which the UK is part, through sustainable development clauses, and in the conditions attached to the trade preferences that we provide to developing countries. As an incentive, additional trade preferences are provided to countries that sign up to, and effectively implement, good governance and human rights conventions. However, adopting trade restrictions in the case of a developing country could have the potential to hurt some of the poorest people in the country and set back development.

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