Press Notice 2, Session 2003 - 04


Major changes in the way the UK government and the EU conduct negotiations on trade and development at the WTO must be made if development-friendly trade agreements are to be reached, says a cross-party report published by International Development Committee.

The report, titled, 'Trade and Development at the WTO: Learning the lessons of Cancºn to Revive a Genuine Development Round', makes a series of practical recommendations for governments and international organisations following consultation with interested parties after the collapse of the Cancºn ministerial meeting in September.

Commenting on the findings, ahead of another WTO meeting in Geneva next week, Committee Chairman Tony Baldry MP said:

"This report is a wake-up call to governments and international organisations alike. The  debacle at Cancºn clearly showed that the WTO isn't working."  

The Committee reserved its sharpest criticism for the EU, suggesting that its failure to agree to further and faster reform of its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was an own goal resulting from a lack of coherence between the EU's policies on trade, development and agriculture. The report also criticised the EU for its insistence on pursuing the Singapore Issues, which were, and are, hugely unpopular with most developing countries.

Tony Baldry added:

"Developing countries and country-groups found their voice at Cancºn but developed countries and the European Union failed to listen to their concerns. With brinkmanship forming the basis of the EU's strategy when it came to the so-called Singapore issues, the probability of the talks collapsing was always high."

"Those responsible now need to learn lessons and learn them fast if a genuine development round is to be revived. The UK Government has a vital role to play in pushing for important changes at EU level, and in the way the WTO itself works."

The Committee adds that political leadership is needed now to revive the development round and that

the USA, for its part, must show more flexibility, particularly on question of cotton.

Committee member Hugh Bayley MP, who chairs the NATO Parliamentary Assembly trade committee said:

"Europe, the USA and Japan must practise what they preach about free trade and stop shielding their farmers from international competition. Without substantial agricultural reform there will be no trade deal, because our agriculture subsidies matter more than anything else to developing countries who control two thirds of the votes in the WTO."

"Rich countries need a trade deal to help our own businesses but the EU scored a spectacular own goal by moving too little and too late on CAP reform and by prioritising negotiations on the Singapore issues instead."

Other recommendations include:

On Process: Preparation in Geneva for ministerial meetings must be better. Deadlines must be met, decisions must not be postponed and ministerial meetings must not be overloaded. The role and status of chairmen and the negotiating texts they produce must be clarified.

On Geopolitics: Developed countries must take account of the increased clout of developing country-groups, and abandon negotiating strategies based on last-minute brinkmanship.

On Substance: The developed world must accept that if its agricultural policies harm developing countries - and trade-distorting domestic support and export subsidies clearly do - then, they must be changed. In a development round, developing countries' concerns should be paramount.


1. The report is titled: 'Trade and Development at the WTO: Learning the lessons of Cancºn to Revive a Genuine Development Round' (First Report, Session 2003-04, HC 92, Volume I).

2. There will not be a press conference. Embargoed copies of the Report will be available for collection by Government Departments, witnesses and the press from the Reception Desk at 7 Millbank and from the Press Gallery from 11.00 a.m. on Wednesday 10 December.  Embargoed copies of Volume II of the Report, comprising the Oral and Written Evidence, will be available at the same time. 

3. Both volumes will be available on the Internet from 3.30 pm on Thursday 11 December: 

4. Committee Membership is as follows: Tony Baldry MP, (Chairman); John Barrett MP; John Battle MP; Hugh Bayley MP; Ann Clwyd MP; Tony Colman MP; Quentin Davies MP; Mr Piara Khabra MP; Chris McCafferty MP; Mr Andrew Robathan MP; Mr Tony Worthington MP

5. News Release: PN2 2003/04


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