Select Committee on International Development First Report


1.We welcome the new policy emphasis on international development and consider this to be a valuable result of the creation of a separate Department of State (paragraph 1).
2.We welcome the publication of a second White Paper as an important addition to, and elaboration of, the first (Development) White Paper (paragraph 2).
3.As with our Report on the first (Development) White Paper, we do not set out to examine all of the issues raised in the Globalisation White Paper nor in the memoranda produced in response to it. However, we hope that this Report, coupled with the evidence submitted to the inquiry will provide a useful resource for both the Government and non-governmental groups alike. It builds on some of the conclusions of our Report on the WTO and we hope that it may serve to take forward the debate on the merits — or otherwise — of globalisation (paragraph 3).
4.We are impressed with the efforts made by DFID in conducting a wide-ranging consultation as part of the process of producing the Globalisation White Paper (paragraph 8).
5.We are concerned about the lack of parliamentary time allocated to debates on international development. We regret that there has still not been a debate on the Development White Paper, published in 1997 (paragraph 10).
6.We now have a separate Department of State dedicated to international development and responsible for considerable sums of taxpayers money. It is deplorable that the House of Commons has no opportunity to scrutinise in debates DFID's activities effectively. We recommend that there should be an annual debate on international development on the floor of the House (paragraph 11).
7.The Committee agrees with the Government that the ultimate impact of globalisation — positive or negative — will be determined by the political choices adopted by governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector and civil society (paragraph 13).
8.We agree with the Globalisation White Paper that support for open trade is not to be confused with support for unregulated trade. We commend the White Paper for its admission that "there are substantial inequities in the existing international trading system", and for its commitment to press the WTO to adopt the International Development Targets. An early priority must now be the identification and elimination of such inequities and to build the confidence of developing countries in the international trading system (paragraph 17).
9.We consider that the proposal to extend market free access to least developed countries into the EU without equivocation or dilution was a modest proposal that would have carried relatively small costs to EU countries whilst having the potential to bring significant benefits to some of the poorest countries in the world. It was always possible to couple the proposal with assistance to other low income countries affected by the proposals. Whilst the final agreement is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, delays in the elimination of duties and quotas for least developed country imports of bananas, rice and sugar show that the EU still has a long way to go to ensure that rhetoric matches reality in making globalisation work for the poor (paragraph 20).
10.Any dilution of standards in the Ethical Trade Initiative would obviously damage its developmental impact. We would welcome the Government's comments on how this can be prevented, for example through the use of international benchmarks for social auditing competence (paragraph 21).
11.The Department has obviously not done enough to disprove the 'received wisdom that globalisation has been accompanied by increasing inequality'. More clearly needs to be done to identify the relationship between trade liberalisation and inequality and to define the necessary components of pro-poor growth (paragraph 25).
12.We welcome further research from DFID on the movement of skilled people. A cross-departmental approach in Whitehall is urgently called for (paragraph 26).
13.We agree with the Secretary of State and with the Globalisation White Paper that migration can play a significant developmental role through improving skills and the generation of remittances. At the same time, it is vital that any moves by developed countries to recruit public service personnel from developing countries should only take place with the consent of the relevant authorities and should not lead to skill shortages in such countries. We recommend that similar guidelines to those already in place in the NHS are drawn up by all other relevant public authorities. We also recommend that the Government, in its Response, provide the Committee with details of how guidelines can be extended to cover the activities of private recruitment agencies (paragraph 30).
14.At present, it is often left to trade unions to monitor and implement basic rights, a point made by the Commonwealth Trade Union Council in their memorandum, "precious union resources are used to secure justice when it is the responsibility of the government to enforce the legislation". This is clearly not acceptable. We call for the Government to set out how core labour standards can best be implemented, monitored and enforced (paragraph 33).
15.We welcome the Government's pragmatic approach to capital account liberalisation and to attracting foreign direct investment to developing countries. We would welcome further details on the Globalisation White Paper's proposal for 'road maps' for the opening up of capital accounts and on proposals to discourage excessive short-term capital inflows (paragraph 35).
16.We look forward to receiving the note on the Government's policy on the Tobin Tax promised by the Secretary of State in evidence (paragraph 36).
17.The White Paper could have considered the issue of trade in services in greater depth and in all of its aspects, particularly as it has generated such concern and controversy among NGOs and some developing countries. The Government has, as we discuss below, agreed to set up a Commission on Intellectual Property Rights. We believe a similar commission on trade in services could usefully be established so as to allow an open, impartial debate on the subject (paragraph 38).
18.We agree that urbanisation is an important element of globalisation and one that could well have been addressed in the context of the Globalisation White Paper (paragraph 40).
19.We request further information from the Government on what measures it is taking to make communications technologies more accessible for the developed world. We also request information on how the Government is proposing to ensure that research and development in this area is appropriate to the needs of developing countries and on efforts to improve developing country representation in relevant organisations such as the International Telecommunications Union (paragraph 45).
20.We welcome a number of innovative proposals outlined in the Globalisation White Paper to encourage pro-poor research, such as the use of public purchase funds to help develop new vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria or TB, differential pricing regimes and the use of tax credits. We also welcome the White Paper's announcement that it is developing proposals to increase investment into pro-poor research and development (paragraph 47).
21.We recommend that, in its Response, the Government outline actions being taken to help reduce the vulnerability of developing countries to global environmental change (paragraph 48).
22.We recommend that the Government, in its Response to this Report, assess progress towards the production of national strategies for sustainable development, and outline measures being undertaken by DFID to help developing countries produce such strategies (paragraph 49).
23.The Committee commends the Government's decision unilaterally to untie development assistance (paragraph 52).
24.An early multilateral agreement to untie aid is now an urgent priority. We request that the Government keep us informed of progress towards reaching such an agreement within the EU and other multilateral fora such as the OECD (paragraph 55).
25.We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government list efforts which are being made to help British consultants win work both in other countries and in multilateral organisations (paragraph 56).
26.We welcome the establishment of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights and ask the Government to keep us informed of its progress (paragraph 58).
27.Overall, the process of producing the Globalisation White Paper has been a useful one. However the success of the White Paper will depend on the degree to which its proposals are implemented. Whilst the Globalisation White Paper is a good start, we will monitor with interest how far the UK, and the multilateral development agencies to which it contributes, are prepared to go to ensure that globalisation truly works for the poor (paragraph 60).

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