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Alan Johnson: I agree. That is what "Everything but Arms" was all about. However, we must accept that this is a huge political issue in many of those countries. There are problems in terms of their ability to reach a position where they can sell such deals, and there is a set of negotiations that requires 150 countries to agree with each one having a veto.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the sensitivity of reaching an agreement whereby we just eliminate those subsidies in the developed world. I understand the necessity to get to that point, but I accept that doing so in democraciessome of the countries involved are not democracies, but most arewill take a little longer. Huge political interest has been shown in this issue, and organisations such as the Trade Justice Movement and Make Poverty History need to keep the pressure on, because politicians now hold the elimination of subsidies as the major ambition, not just in terms of tackling world poverty but in terms of dealing with global security issues.
Tom Levitt (High Peak) (Lab): The whole House will be grateful to my right hon. Friend and the delegation for their efforts in the fight for trade justice last week. Clearly, the WTO is a large monster that is proving difficult to controlas much King Kong as Hong Kong. In discussions last week, was progress made on promoting trade between developing countries and less developed countries, or was it all related to the relationship between the more developed and less developed countries?
Alan Johnson: Most of the discussion was about the relationship between least developed countries and developed countries. South-south trade is a very important issue, but it did not really get on to the agenda last week. Given the problems that needed to be resolved over five or six days, it is probably understandable that it did not. My hon. Friend is right, however, that the issue is an important part of the totality of this trade round.
Mr. Robert Walter (North Dorset) (Con):
Ministers are prone to adopt the rhetoric of the Trade Justice Movement and Make Poverty History. There must
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therefore be some disappointment, given the strong position of the United Kingdom in holding the presidency of the European Union, that more could not have been achieved in Hong Kong or in Brussels last week. We have a commitment on 5 per cent. of farm support in terms of export subsidies, but what about the other 95 per cent. of support to farmers in the United States and Europe? On tariff barriers, can the Secretary of State be more specific on what will be included in the 3 per cent?
Alan Johnson: Our policy is to go for 100 per cent., so we are not just interested in what the 3 per cent. should include. We are pretty sure about what Japan and the United States would include in that 3 per cent. boxcotton from Bangladesh springs to mind, for example, and other imports from Cambodia. In fact, the United States originally put forward a proposal whereby countries would be specified as not being able to sell their products into its markets. Eventually, thankfully, that was dropped. In terms of adopting the language of the Trade Justice Movement, that is done across the House because what that movement is saying is true. This is a crucial issue for developed and developing countries. What we do about the rest of those tariffs, which was the thrust of the hon. Gentleman's question, is to return to the fray to get a successful, ambitious outcome by the end of next year. Only then, when we reach the final part, can we judge whether the whole round has been a success or failure. We have taken a small step forward in Hong Kong, but there is still a long way to go.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State accept that many people are very sad that food dumping policies will now continue for several years more, with the attendant problems for agriculture in the poorest countries in the world? Will he assure the House that in the discussions before the end of next year, no pressure will be put on the poorest countries to force them to lift import restrictions on manufactured goods from the western world or to privatise public services, which seems to be part of the agenda behind the NAMAnon-agricultural market accessproposals originally put forward?
I agree with the thrust of my hon. Friend's question. In terms of this round, there should be no question of the least developed countries doing anything. Countries such as Singapore, however, which is listed as a developing country, are perhaps not in the same position as Sierra Leone, so certain elements must be considered. Our policy of no forced liberalisation remains, however, and in terms of the issues around services, even though the UK held the presidency of the European Union, we opposed the introduction of benchmarking in services. That has been replaced by plurilateral discussions, which do not interfere with developing countries' ability to say no on a particular servicethey decide which services to open up under what is called the request and offer principle.
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Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I am sure that the whole House is grateful to the Secretary of State for his characteristically honest and thoughtful statement. Does he agree, however, that if we are to achieve a more successful outcome to the round during the coming months, the attitudes and intentions of the more developed developing nations are crucial? In that context, will he comment on the remarks by Jagdish Bhagwati in the Financial Times today:
"Indian industry has come of age and has moved, thanks to its success in information technology, from a defeatist embrace of protectionism to a 'can do' attitude. Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, and Kamal Nath, his commerce and industry minister, both see protectionism as a relic of the past."?
Alan Johnson: I think that there is a lot in that. Kamal Nath is visionary, in many respects, in terms of where he wants to take the Indian economy. Nevertheless, India is a democracy. In the summer, we had the pleasure of moving from the EU summit in China straight over to India. We were reminded that things could be done in China, in terms of opening up markets, that could not be done in India because of the huge consequences for constituents. India, in particular, will be very disappointed if we do not get a good agreement on industry and services, because its focus is on that rather than on agriculture.
Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton) (Lab/Co-op): I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement in the sense of sharing all the disappointments that he has expressed but also sharing his determination to see as much progress made in the final stages of the trade round as is now possible. That disappointment will be shared by many thousands of our constituents and Members on both sides of the House who are part of the non-governmental organisations and faith groups in the Trade Justice Movement. What is his advice as to how they can best apply their undoubtedly effective campaigning energies in those final stages? As well as keeping us on track, are there other things that they can do?
Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory (Wells) (Con): Is it not an eloquent fact that although there are eight Ministers in the DTI, only one is responsible for trade, and he is shared with the Foreign Office? Will the Secretary of State ensure that the entire subject of trade liberalisation on behalf of poor countries is given more weight, influence and prominence, both within the British Government and at future talks, rather than the whole thing being subcontracted to the European Commission, which has done a very bad job on behalf of British interests at the recent talks?
I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman's final comment about the Commission. We have our debates about Europe, and the Conservative party has more internal debates, but I thought that the issue of a single market generally found approval across the political spectrum. If we consider what is happening around the world, negotiating as a block is becoming
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de rigueur. We found out in Hong Kong that the G20 has now teamed up with the G90 to be the G110. I cannot wait for the day when we have the G150. Such trading blocks are quite common. I think that Commissioners Mandelson and Fischer Boel did a good job on behalf of the European Union last week, recognising that each of the member states, if we were not negotiating together, would still be able to block the whole deal because of the way that the WTO operates. Bringing them along together is therefore right.
I do not think that an equation can be made with the number of Trade Ministers in the Government. We have an excellent Minister for Trade who does the job extremely effectively. Other DTI Ministers also have an involvement in trade, and I think that we have the balance right. Certainly, one cannot judge the success of a policy in terms of how many Ministers are pursuing it.
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