Draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Agreement on Trade, Development and Co-Operation Between the European Community and its Member States and the Republic of South Africa) Order 2002

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Angus Robertson (Moray): I also welcome the order. I fully support the Minister's comments, especially those about the focus on poverty reduction in South Africa as a positive effect of the agreement, which must be welcomed by all. I put on record my praise for the long-standing work done by Winnie Ewing, the former Member of the European Parliament for Highlands and Islands, who was one of the leading movers and shakers behind the Lomé convention. That was one of the things behind improved links between the European Community—now the European Union—and African countries.

What assessment has been made of potential trade growth as a consequence of the agreement for the European Union, the United Kingdom and, just as importantly, South Africa? What is the projected trade growth as a result of the welcome agreement?

4.45 pm

Mr. MacShane: I am grateful to the hon. Members for West Suffolk, for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Moore) and for Moray (Angus Robertson)—[Hon. Members: ''It is pronounced Murray.''] I am sorry. I was born near Glasgow—Govan actually—so I am afraid that I am a west coast specialist.

I might not cover all questions that were asked because several were technical. It might be no bad thing if questions to be asked in Committees considering matters on which there are no divisions were submitted in advance.

Mr. Spring: I understand the Minister's position but as I have repeatedly said, with little success so far, if he has difficulty answering several technical yet pertinent questions of mine, he may write to me. I have not received a letter from him thus far but I would welcome one. I would be happy to accept a letter rather than an immediate response if that would be easier.

Mr. MacShane: I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. He has treated these matters with great courtesy and there is no party division. What we all say today is written into the record and published. It is then

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available to our South African colleagues, businesses and many people in this country who care about the development of Africa and South Africa. It might be better if technical questions were sent in. That is a normal courtesy in advance of Adjournment debates and other exchanges in the House that are not party political, which allows Ministers to reply as fully as possible.

If my replies do not cover all the questions, not only hon. Members are welcome to write to me to request detailed information. I shall write to anyone who is watching the debate or who reads the report to explain the Government's point of view. I am happy to do that because I am a friend of South Africa—I think that all in this Room are—and we want the welcome initiative to work properly.

The reference to political dialogue is a read-across from the Cotonou agreement. That was signed on 23 June 2000 and it replaced the old Lomé agreement. It was agreed that issues such as human rights, good government and democracy would form part of the relationship between the European Union and the group of countries covered by the agreement. Although South Africa is not formally covered by the agreement, the South African Government agree that criteria on political dialogue should be included in the discussion. That is more appropriate given the need for discussion on Zimbabwe, which several hon. Members mentioned.

The distribution throughout the region of food aid that may be wholly or partly made of GM crops continues to be an issue of intense discussion and negotiation. That is not directly relevant to the TDCA because the position on GM crops is one for the European Union as a whole.

I am not aware of any industries that will be subject to specific safeguards now or in future. That will depend on developing economic circumstances. However, it is usual to put safeguarding clauses into all international trade treaties. For example, the EU is currently considering safeguards for exports from a range of countries because of the United States steel tariffs—an unacceptable and unjustifiable protectionist measure that has had the effect of transferring steel exports that would have gone to the US to other countries.

The issue of the protection of infant industries was raised. Alas, I have not been to South Africa for some years, but I have been struck by the creativity of South African entrepreneurs and their desire to develop a range of industries of the most modern, technological and creative kind. Let us not forget that the world's first heart transplant took place in South Africa. It has some of the cleverest scientists and engineers in the world. We accept that South Africa should be allowed to support its newly born and infant domestic industries to promote development. Tariff protections are not the best way of doing that but we all accept, as part of the new thinking on trade, that infant industries may need to be protected.

The main area of concern about agricultural trade has been the impossibility of reaching an agreement on fisheries. The hon. Member for West Suffolk will recall

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that the common fisheries policy was raised in debate this morning in a way that showed the difficulty of negotiating fisheries agreements. However, I am glad to report—although I am someone who rarely takes a glass—that 35.3 billion litres of South African wine is exported to the European Union. I can announce that some of it has found its way into my drinks cabinet, modest as it may be. That is a privilege of being a Minister in Her Majesty's Government. The quota will increase by 6.72 billion litres a year between 2002 and 2011. I promise not to try to drink it all myself.

I heard some of the Chancellor's pre-Budget statement in the House, but not the very welcome news about an increase in development aid, which will help to strengthen what we do to combat HIV-AIDS. The figures announced today on the level of suffering are truly unbearable. However, one of the accomplishments of the Doha round was to allow countries to offer the drugs that will combat this scourge without paying the full price that is demanded by the northern pharmaceutical companies.

The Government are firmly committed to making a success of the Doha round. As the Chancellor said, next year we expect trade to increase by 5 per cent. If the Doha round can be carried forward, there will be a massive increase of some $150 billion of trade, which will help grow the world economy. South African exports to the United Kingdom grew by one third in both 2000 and 2001. Some of that growth was due to a fall in the value of the rand, but undoubtedly Britain's commitment to a free trade agreement has had a stimulating effect.

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Since the TDCA regulations were applied provisionally—depending on ratification or endorsement today—South African exports to the European Union have gone up by about 50 per cent. EU exports to South Africa went up by 18 per cent. in 2000 and 19 per cent. in 2001. That makes the point, which I hope does not divide us, that free trade is good for combating poverty and for dealing with the many problems that South Africa faces.

The enlargement countries will be party to the agreement once they are members of the European Union, following the Copenhagen Council and treaty ratification. I hope that this time the ratification process of the enlargement treaty will not be opposed by anyone other than extremists, of whom there are one or two in the House. We would be happy to see the enlargement countries involved in dialogue with South Africa.

I am not sure that I have covered every point made in the debate. The proposal takes us in the right direction. I am grateful for the questions from hon. Members who participated in the debate. The order is a serious step forward that will help South Africa, and I commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Agreement on Trade, Development and Co-operation Between the European Community and its Member States and the Republic of South Africa) Order 2002.

Committee rose at four minutes to Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cran, Mr. James (Chairman)
Baldry, Tony
Caplin, Mr.
Colman, Mr.
Dean, Mrs.
Dowd, Jim
Lawrence, Mrs.
MacShane, Mr.
Moore, Mr.
Pope, Mr.
Robertson, Angus
Spring, Mr.
Starkey, Dr.
Woodward, Mr.

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