Written Answers. - Lomé Convention.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

78 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether there should be another Lomé Convention or whether separate agreements should be negotiated with the Caribbean states and the group of states in Africa. [8256/98]

The current Lomé Convention expires in February 2000.

The commission transmitted to the council on 29 January 1998 draft directives for the negotiation of a new development agreement with Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to replace the current convention when it lapses.

The commission has proposed negotiation of a general framework agreement with ACP countries by 2000 with regional economic agreements to be negotiated by 2005.

Ireland supports this approach and will urge that new arrangements should fully safeguard the position of least developed countries; should at least maintain current market access for the ACP states and should be WTO compatible.

Ireland will also support strengthening political co-operation with the ACP states and adopting development co-operation programmes to take account of the needs of the ACP countries themselves, especially the least developed.

Ireland attaches great importance to the negotiation of a new Lomé agreement and will actively participate in negotiations to this end.