Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
TUESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2005
15 NOVEMBER 2005Mr
Q40 Lord Jordan:
Do the European Union negotiators who are going to Hong Kong have
any mandate at all to arise and press the issue of core labour
Mr Liddle: They have
a commitment to core labour standards but not to raise them at
Hong Kong as part of the WTO, because the developing countries
insisted that this agenda was not conducted through the WTO but
through the International Labour Organization. We are committed
to core labour standards. We use our much maligned preference
regimes to try and promote core labour standards. Obviously that
would be an important part of a bilateral trade agenda that the
EU was pursuing. No, we are not doing it multilaterally because
the developing world does not want it.
Q41 Lord Inglewood:
If we go back to the response that you gave Lord Steinberg you
referred to the very dramatic position adopted by Brazil as far
as non-agricultural market access and trade and services were
concerned. Do you think that is fuelled by the fear that the United
States would simply come in and take everything over?
Mr Liddle: I think
it is fuelled by their history, that when they got into all that
debt trouble at the end of the 1980s (and my memory is a bit hazy)
as part of the IMF package of support that the Brazilians had,
they were required to cut tariffs pretty drastically, and this
did cause quite a lot of unemployment in some of their (what had
been) highly protected industrial sectors. I think that there
is, as always, a sort of political background to these things.
They have had a nasty experience in the past with this kind of
imposed liberalisation and they do not want it to happen again.
The contrary argument is that their economy is now a much more
competitive economy than it was in the 1980s; so they can face
these things with much greater resilience. If you look at the
agricultural sector, again I knew nothing at all about this until
I went to Brussels last year, I was just amazed to look at the
statistics of how sector by sector the Brazilians are now dominating
agricultural exports in the world; and the potential for growth
they have is enormous. They are building up a huge trade surplus
in agricultural exports. This is all very good for them, and I
do not think we have got any right to say that they should not
be allowed to exploit the natural competitive and comparative
advantage of these areas. All I am saying is I think their economy
is in a much stronger position to reciprocate than it was when
they were in difficulties at the end of the 1980s.
Q42 Lord Cobbold:
Are you, in general, optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome
for the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting?
Mr Liddle: I am optimistic
about an outcome for the Doha Round. Certainly Mr Mandelson believes
we have got to pull this one off. For the Hong Kong meeting itselfat
trade ministers' level a consensus was arrived at that it was
not going to achieve that much, which Mr Mandelson disagreed with
but had to go along with the consensus. Let us see what happens
internationally in response to what the Prime Minister said last
nightI just do not know.