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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 14 November 2005



Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2005, Official Report, column 724W, on access to treatment, when his Department expects UNAIDS to establish its taskforce; when it expects UNAIDS to set its intermediate targets; and if he will make a statement. [27857]

Mr. Thomas: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is in the process of establishing a Global Steering Committee for scaling up towards universal access. The UK has recently agreed to be co-chair, alongside the UNAIDS. The Committee will determine whether intermediate targets will be set. We expect the Committee to report to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2006.

Cheap Food Exports

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made on the impact of cheap food exports to developing countries from the EU on the economies of those countries; and if he will make a statement. [26097]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development supports a range of research on the impacts of developed countries agricultural policies on developing countries. One current programme is with the United Nations Food and Agricultural organisation (FAO) on the impacts of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agricultural policies on developing countries. The research outputs are available at: www.fao.org/trade. The Government recognise the damaging impact that trade-distorting subsidies in the EU and other OECD countries have on developing countries and we are committed to securing reductions in these subsidies, through the reform of the common agricultural policy and the World Trade Organisation talks.

The most recent common agricultural policy reform package agreed in 2003–04 marks a significant shift in the EU's agricultural policy. The de-coupling of subsidies from production should increase the market orientation of European farmers, leading to reductions in production and disposal of subsidised surpluses abroad.

The Government also fully support the commitment made as part of the WTO's Doha Development Agenda

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We are pushing strongly for progress towards this at the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong.

Criminal Offences

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department from May 1997 up to and including April 2005, broken down by Act. [27590]

Mr. Thomas: No legislation introduced by the Department for International Development since 1997 has contained criminal law provisions.

Fair Trade

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's policy is on trade with developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [27628]

Mr. Thomas: The UK Government are committed to the development of an open and rules-based international trading system that fulfils its potential to contribute to the reduction of poverty in poorer countries. Our key policy commitments on trade and development, as well as our objectives for the current round of multilateral trade talks, are set out in the Government's White Papers, Making Globalisation a Force for Good" (July 2004) and Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor" (December 2000). The UK Government are working hard to support the poorest and most vulnerable producers, be it through multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or regional trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreements.

At the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July, we made real and substantial progress for developing countries on more and better aid, deeper debt relief, and re-affirmed our commitment to a successful conclusion to the current round of WTO trade talks. The G8 also agreed to provide increased funds for trade related capacity building to assist developing countries take advantage of the new opportunities from a positive conclusion to the round. There is increased international support for increased 'Aid for Trade' as reflected at the recent World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings and the G8 summit in Gleneagles. It is important that we build rapidly on the outcome of these meetings.

The forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong represents an important opportunity to make a significant contribution to reducing global poverty. The UK Government are working to achieve an outcome that delivers real gains for developing countries, including the poorest. These gains should include improved participation by developing countries in the world trading system, through substantially increased market access for developing countries and the dismantling of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies by industrialised countries.
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Illegal Logging

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has made (a) directly and (b) through the EU to the Governments of (i) Indonesia and (ii) Cameroon regarding illegal logging. [25365]

Mr. Thomas: The UK has been closely engaged with Indonesia concerning illegal logging since preparing for the Ministerial Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) Ministerial Conference in Bali in September 2002. The resulting declaration led to the UK-Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which aims to tackle illegal logging in Indonesia and ultimately eliminate trade in illegally harvested timber between the two countries.

Our ambassador in Jakarta and DFID officials have maintained frequent and direct contact with the Indonesian Minister of Forestry and his officials concerning implementing the MoU and we are making steady progress.

My most recent direct contact with the Minister of Forestry was to invite him to visit the UK in September to discuss progress and future activities. Unfortunately the Minister had to postpone his visit.

Since the trade issues must be dealt with at the EU level, these cannot be tackled under the MoU and DFID, together with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, have been working to put in place the EU forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) action plan. These will provide for voluntary partnership agreements between the EU and timber producing countries with a licensing scheme to control illegal trade as their focus. The European Commission is leading on preparations for such an agreement with Indonesia, which we hope will supersede and strengthen our MoU. Our ambassador underlined the importance of such an agreement in a meeting with the Indonesian Minister of Forestry last July and DFID officials, through the commission in Brussels and its delegation in Jakarta, are lending practical support to the current preparations.

The UK has been working closely with the Government of Cameroon over a number of years to tackle illegal logging and forest governance problems. We have supported the Government to develop a comprehensive national programme to address illegal logging and improve forest management and have also supported an independent monitor in Cameroon to help the Government combat forest crime. We worked closely with the Minister of Forests and Prime Minister to support Cameroon hosting the Pan African Ministerial Conference on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in 2003. Most recently DFID officials met the Minister responsible for Forestry and Ministry of Finance in October to finalise plans for our support to the national programme and to further understanding about the opportunities afforded by the voluntary partnership agreement with Europe for the timber trade.

The UK has been supporting the Cameroon Government in preparing for negotiations with the European Commission for such an agreement alongside Germany, who co-ordinates this work for the member
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states. The Forest Minister recently indicated to us that they would like to negotiate a partnership agreement in July 2006 when work reviewing the legal code is completed.


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to encourage more countries to pledge money to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation. [28414]

Hilary Benn: DFID is continuing to work alongside HM Treasury and the Foreign Office to encourage more donors to pledge to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) through one-on-one meetings and discussions and international conferences. Italy, France, Sweden and Spain remain the core committed European donors, but we are now holding discussions with Norway, Belgium, and Austria and hope that they might also contribute. Outside Europe, we are holding discussions with South Africa, India, Brazil and Japan, all of whom are expressing some interest in participating.

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