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Foreign Office responds to Foreign Affairs Committee report

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  • Bob Conrich
    Three months ago the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee issued a preliminary report on the Overseas Territories. The first paragraph below is
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2008
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      Three months ago the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee
      issued a preliminary report on the Overseas Territories. The first
      paragraph below is what they said about Tristan.

      Below that is the response of, for all practical purposes, the Foreign
      and Commonwealth Office (but submitted in the name of their
      responsible Minister) which was just released this afternoon.

      This will now lead to further testimony and discussion, following
      which the Committee will issue recommendations. While they lack the
      force of law, the Committee is quite influential.

      The entire 42 page report, for those interested in other OTs, is at:
      http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm74/7473/7473.pdf

      36. We welcome the Government's swift provision of emergency assistance to
      Tristan da Cunha following harbour damage and an outbreak of illness
      on the Island. We recommend that the Government continues to provide
      funding for projects on Tristan da Cunha, focusing on projects that will
      promote greater self-sufficiency. We also recommend that the FCO makes
      representations to China to try to open UK-China trade agreements to the
      sale of Tristan lobster.

      FCO RESPONSE:

      109. The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation that it
      provide funding for projects focusing on promoting Tristan da Cunha's
      self-sufficiency. A review of Tristan da Cunha Government's budget
      and economic diversification in 2008, funded by DFID, highlighted a
      number of key areas which the FCO and DFID are working closely with
      the island community to address, with the aim of maintaining the
      island's long-term self-sufficiency.

      110. Following the Administrator's austerity measures, introduced on
      the island in June 2008 to increase the Tristan da Cunha Government's
      income, the Government is funding a number of projects and government
      positions in line with the review's recommendations. DFID agreed to
      fund two expatriate Tristan da Cunha Government employees – a Director
      of Education and a Director of Public Works. The FCO has agreed
      funding for the National School of Government to visit the island and
      investigate possible public sector reform. There are also plans for an
      FCO-funded consultant to work with the island community to produce a
      Sustainable Development Plan. The aim of the Plan will be to provide
      the Tristan da Cunha Government with a clear path for the island's
      future and ensure the changes Tristan and the UK introduce are
      sustainable. DFID-funded rehabilitation work on Calshot Harbour is due
      to continue in January 2009, building on the excellent work that the
      MOD Joint Task Force completed in March 2008.

      111. We note the Committee's recommendation that the FCO makes
      representations to China to try to open up UK-China trade agreements
      to the sale of Tristan lobster. We recognise that the development of
      Tristan da Cunha's fisheries is essential to the island's development
      and the FCO is working with a number of agencies and bodies including
      the Tristan da Cunha Government, St Helena Government, the European
      Commission and Ovenstone Agencies to gain accreditation for Tristan
      lobster to be exported to EU markets. DFID have furthermore agreed to
      fund hygiene training to help with the process of getting Tristan's
      laboratory certified to EU standards.

      112. Tristan da Cunha is not covered by the UK/EU's membership of the
      World Trade Organisation. As a result it does not benefit from the
      Most Favoured Nation tariff treatment accorded by China to trade from
      the UK/EU. Whilst it would be possible in principle for the UK to
      negotiate a bilateral preferential trade agreement with China on
      behalf of Tristan da Cunha, it is difficult to see what Tristan da
      Cunha could offer the Chinese in exchange for improved market access
      for its lobsters. For this reason, the Government judges that it
      would be more advantageous in the first instance to work with the
      Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena and European authorities to secure
      improved market access for Tristan da Cunha lobsters in the EU.
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