Previous Section Index Home Page

8 Dec 2005 : Column 1491W—continued

British Overseas Territories

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding has been allocated from his Department for the improvement of transport links (a) to and from and (b) within each British Overseas Territory in each of the last seven years. [33767]

Mr. Thomas: Our contributions to costs of maintaining or improving transport links have been included within our overall assistance. Since 1998, these have included:

I announced plans last March to build an airport in St. Helena, subject to satisfactory contract bids and a rigorous environmental impact assessment.
 
8 Dec 2005 : Column 1492W
 

EU Agricultural Policies

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the impact of EU agricultural policies on people in developing countries. [35037]

Mr. Thomas: The Government acknowledge the damaging impact that dumping and trade-distorting subsidies have on developing countries, particularly on their agriculture sectors. We fully support the commitment made at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Ministerial meeting in 2001, which agreed that agriculture negotiations would aim to achieve: substantial improvements in market access; reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support.

The package of reforms to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed in June 2003 and May 2004 mark a significant shift in the EU's agricultural policy. The de-coupling of subsidies from production should connect European farmers much more closely to the market and have real impacts on reducing excessive production, which results in dumping and harms developing countries. The Government will continue to be at the forefront of those pushing for further reform of the EU's agricultural policy and I welcome the fact that the Commission has re-affirmed its commitment to ensuring that the EU plays a full and constructive role in the WTO agriculture negotiations. I also welcome the commitment in the WTO to agree to set an end date for all export supports. The UK believes these should end by 2010.

The Doha Development Agenda and specifically the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong represent 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.

Free Trade

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to promote free trade with developing countries; and if he will make a statement. [35131]


 
8 Dec 2005 : Column 1493W
 

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.

The UK Government do not support forced liberalisation or unfettered free trade but trade that is fair as well as free. The UK Government support the view that developing countries need to decide on the timing, pace and sequencing of any market opening in line with their own national development and poverty reduction plans. In the context of the WTO negotiations we are firmly committed to ensuring that developing countries are given appropriate flexibility to adjust to trade reforms.

In the long term, the removal of trade barriers, if managed properly, can help developing countries gain better access to developed country markets and more competitively priced inputs. By increasing Aid for Trade, (AFT) the UK hopes to help poorer countries seize the opportunities presented by more open markets. DFID will treble its support to £100 million a year by 2010 to help boost poor countries' capacity to trade.

At the WTO ministerial in Hong Kong we are working with international partners to deliver on the ambition of Doha and build on G8 commitments. The UK Government are working to achieve an outcome that delivers real gains for developing countries, including the poorest.

Intellectual Property Rights

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on enabling the least developed countries to meet the economic, administrative and legal challenges of making use of the flexibilities within the agreement on the trade related aspects of intellectual property rights of the World Trade Organisation. [35205]

Hilary Benn: DFID has been funding several programmes specifically around, or incorporating activities, on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities in the context of its global strategy to improve access to essential medicines.

We have been providing support to the World Health Organisation's Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH), which is reporting in January 2006, with the secondment of an official to lead the secretariat of the Commission (three-year project: £240,000).

We have been funding legal research and assistance on how to implement the flexibilities, with for instance the recent release of the UNCTAD-International
 
8 Dec 2005 : Column 1494W
 
Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development's Resource Book on TRIPS and Development" (part of a three-year £1.2 million project), published this year.

DFID also supports country-focused work on the issue. In Ghana, we support an Access to Medicines Initiative (ATMI) through the Ghana National Drugs Programme that includes work on TRIPS flexibilities. The DFID Health Resource Centre commissioned a series of studies that looked at access to medicines in under-served markets, including country case studies in Kenya and Malawi. A study on China and India investigates the effects of changing intellectual property legislation on the pharmaceutical industry in these countries, and in a recent update, the consequences of the alignment with TRIPS obligations in 2005.

Palestinian Authority

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures are in place to ensure accountability for funds transferred from (a) the UK and (b) the European Union for development assistance in the Palestinian Authority; and if he will make a statement. [35433]

Mr. Thomas: Both the UK Government and the European Commission take concerns over the use of aid very seriously. DFID has co-ordinated closely with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other donors in ensuring that the Palestinian Authority (PA) makes proper use of donor funds.

Since 2004, part of both UK and European Community (EC) funding for the Palestinians has been provided to the PA budget through the World Bank-managed Reform Trust Fund. Release of funds is linked to the achievement of benchmarks for reform. Progress is carefully monitored. This process has helped the PA to improve its financial control and management. It also reflects our commitment that aid should be properly accounted for, used for the intended purposes and represent value for money. Other forms of UK and EC assistance for Palestinians have been provided through organisations whose accounts are reliably audited.


Next Section Index Home Page