Press Notice 24b, Session 2004-05

Publication of Report

Fair trade? The European Union’s trade agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

The International Development Committee will publish its report on the EU’s trade agreements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries at 00.01 on Wednesday 6 April (HC 68). In the year of the UK Presidencies of the G8 and the EU, the report argues that the Government should be working to ensure that the trade agreements being negotiated have the elimination of poverty as their primary goal.

The report describes progress on the negotiations which began in 2000 and which are due to be completed by the end of 2007. The report maintains that these negotiations have not received sufficient public scrutiny, despite the fact that one of the world’s largest economic actors, the EU, is negotiating with many of the world’s poorest and weakest economies, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The Committee argues that the EU should not seek to impose on the ACP agendas and timetables unless these are specifically linked to development goals of the ACP states. And, the EU should not expect reciprocal market opening in agriculture until all trade distorting EU agricultural subsidies have been removed.

The EU should ensure that it is offering the ACP states a coherent menu of real choices. At present ACP states can choose between different trade regimes, some of which will have a developmental component and others which do not. The Report argues that there should be a developmental component attached to all trade agreements offered to developing countries.

The UK Government has recently announced that it will no longer pursue the Singapore issues of investment, competition and government procurement in the Economic Partnership Agreements, unless specifically requested to do so by an ACP region. The Committee welcomes this shift in Government policy which reflects the views of the Committee as put forward to the Government and the EU during our evidence sessions. The Committee would like to see the UK Government take this position forward to the EU during its Presidency.

Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman, Tony Baldry MP, said:

“The UK Government must seize this once in a generation opportunity in its Presidencies of the G8 and the EU, to ensure that the poorest states are not compelled to open their markets, on the basis of reciprocity, to unfairly subsidised Common Agricultural Policy products.

We are delighted that the Government has withdrawn demands for the inclusion of the Singapore issues in the EPAs. We have argued for a long time that these are not developmental priorities.

The EU should listen to the concerns of the ACP states. It should not seek to foist agendas on them. The goal of a global partnership for development should guide these negotiations.

The European Commissioner for Trade has promised that trade will be at the service of development. The International Development Committee wants to ensure that this is not simply rhetoric, but a real outcome of the negotiations.”

Embargoed advance copies of the Report will be available for collection by Government Departments, witnesses and the press from the Reception Desk at 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA and from the Press Gallery from 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday 5 April.

From Wednesday 6 April, the report may also be purchased from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, SW1A 2JX, Tel 020 7219 3890) or from The Stationery Office (Parliamentary Hotline, Tel 0845 702 3474). It will also be available on the Internet, from 3.30 p.m. on 6 April, at:


Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Tony Baldry (Chairman) (Conservative), John Barrett (Liberal Democrat), Mr John Battle (Labour), Hugh Bayley (Labour), Mr John Bercow (Conservative), Ann Clwyd (Labour), Mr Tony Colman (Labour), Mr Quentin Davies (Conservative); Mr Piara S. Khabra (Labour), Chris McCafferty (Labour), and Tony Worthington (Labour).

Media Enquiries: Adele Brown, 020 7219 0724 or

Committee contact: Dr Anna Dickson 020 7219 2738 or

Committee website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845  7023474)