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Mr. Michael Weir (Angus): The Secretary of State will be aware that before the Doha meeting, Christian Aid and others called for a review of existing agreements prior to embarkation on another round. Clearly, that has not happened. Are any mechanisms in place to review the delivery of promised improvements to developing countries?
Having said that, I warmly welcome the agreement on medical supplies in developing countries and congratulate the Secretary of State and Ministers on achieving it. It is only a partial agreement: there is no agreement on compulsory licensing in third countries, which may mean that developing countries without a drugs industry will be disadvantaged. Is the Secretary of State prepared to publish a detailed assessment of the agreement, particularly on TRIPS and key medicines, and say what efforts the United Kingdom Government will make to improve the situation?
Finally, when the members of the delegation were listed, there was no mention of any member of the Scottish Executive. The Secretary of State gave a holding answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Annabelle Ewing) this morning, but can she now say whether any member of the Scottish Executive was part of the delegation?
Ms Hewitt: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for at least some of his remarks. There was no representative of the Scottish Executive in the delegation: world trade is a reserved matter. As for the agreement on TRIPS and medical access to drugs, the declaration clarifies the meaning of TRIPSthe intellectual property agreementand therefore the rules of the WTO to ensure that people in developing countries have access to the
There is, however, much else that needs to be done to deal with the appalling health situation in developing countries. Last week, I referred to the £1 billion investment that the Government have already made in the development of primary health care in developing countries and the $200 million that we have contributed to the global health fund, designed specifically to make those essential drugs affordable for people in developing countries. We have made an enormous advance on the matter raised by Christian Aid and the suggestion that there should be an assessment of achievements so far before entering new negotiations. However, that matter was not particularly raised by developing countries at the conference.
Ms Oona King (Bethnal Green and Bow): Does my right hon. Friend agree that Doha represents a historic moment for developing countries because it is the first time that they have significantly shaped the global economy? Is not that because of the WTO, not in spite of it? On agriculture and the phasing out of export credits, will she push for the European Union to reduce its protectionist tendencies regarding the common agricultural policy, and is that more likely after the French elections?
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South): May I welcome the statement and the right hon. Lady's answer about the Philippines? It is a delight to hear that Chinese Taipei has been received into the WTO. Does she agree that the example that it has given both in helping developing countries and in the political sphere of a smooth transfer of power from one party to another last year is an example for many developing nations and others?
Lest some of my constituents and others should be in touch with Members, perhaps having picked up from the media that the average home will be richer by £500, will the right hon. Lady explain where that money will go? I have a suspicion that the average home will not see it.
Ms Hewitt: When I was in Doha, I had the pleasure of meeting the Trade Ministers both from China and from Chinese Taipei. I have no doubt that both will make an enormous contribution to the WTO. The accessions represent a real strengthening of the organisation. With the accession of China, we can for the first time regard the WTO as a truly global organisation.
The benefits that will flow from trade liberalisation to families in Britain depend upon a successful outcome of the negotiation. It was once said that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers; it might be truer now to say that we are a nation of shoppers. All of us who shop, especially in supermarkets and markets, enjoy the benefits of world trade in the form of a wider choice of products and lower prices than would otherwise be the case. I have no doubt that as we enter into negotiationsit will be hard workand as we bring them to a successful conclusion, we shall see significant benefits flowing through to British families and to British exporters.
I accept that the agreement is only a beginning. We must ensure that the developed nations carry it through and ensure that we create conditions which, like the coalition against terrorism that has created so much success in Afghanistan, enable the coalition for the fight against poverty to produce the same sort of result. If we do not do that, we shall be failing.
TRIPS is an extremely important matter. I press my right hon. Friend on the progress that we can make to ensure that underdeveloped countries can enjoy freedom from a disease in the same way that an ordinary civilised society can. If she can give me an assurance on that, I shall be grateful.
Ms Hewitt: I know that my hon. Friend has done a great deal of work with churches in his constituency on issues that directly concern developing countries. There was a clear sense at Doha, among us all, that security in the world must go hand in hand with the sharing of prosperity.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has already ensured that the UK Government are playing a significant role in spreading access to medicines in developing countries. This is only in part a matter of WTO rules on intellectual property. Nine out of 10 medicines on the World Health Organisation's essential medicines list are generic drugs and outside patent protection. Even if they were all free, there must be an infrastructure of primary health care in developing countries that can ensure that medicines are properly prescribed and delivered to those who need them. That is why the investment that the Government have been making and will continue to make in primary health care in developing countries is even more important than the agreement that we reached at Doha.
Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): I welcome the progress that has been made, and support the comments made about the importance of the agreement in that it will lead to positive benefits in the developing world. I ask the Secretary of State to address in more detail the accession to membership of the Chinese. In the past, there have been considerable difficulties with China over trading, not least in the sphere of intellectual property. I would be interested to hear about the Chinese contribution at Doha, and how she feels now that trading and China will move forward in the context of this round.
Ms Hewitt: As a new member whose accession was formalised at the WTO only this week, and which has not yet been ratified by China, China did not play a direct role in this week's proceedings. It was not part of the discussions. It was clear, certainly in the discussions that I had with the Chinese Trade Minister, that he and his colleagues recognised the enormous challenge to China in becoming a full member of the world trading community and in ensuring compliance with the rules of the WTO. Even more important, China recognises the enormous benefits that opening up to trade will bring, especially in
Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley): Has my right hon. Friend made any assessment of the plight of the people of Tibet, following China joining the WTO? Another factor to consider is the aggression that has always been shown to Chinese Taipei. With the two countries joining the WTO, perhaps an assessment has been made of relationships between the two. I am sure that she will work hard for countries outside the WTO to ascertain how we can encourage more countries to join in the next round of talks.
Ms Hewitt: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. China will become a member country in 30 days now that the Doha agreement has been concluded. China and Chinese Taipei have had a long and difficult history. I made the point last week that after the second world war the central motive for the establishment of the European Union was the belief that close economic and trading links between countries were likely substantially to reduce the risk of violent conflict between them.
My hon. Friend talked about encouraging other countries to join the WTO. There are 28 other candidates seeking accession to it. The critics of globalisation who regard the WTO as some sort of evil plot against developing countries should take stock of their views in the light of the Doha development agreement and recognise that, far from seeking to escape from the WTO, developing countries are joining it at a rapid rate. That is a good sign for the future of world security and prosperity.