HC Deb 19 March 1959 vol 602 cc610-1
15. Mr. Warbey

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the continued use of discriminatory and protectionist trade practices in the United States of America, he will defer any further relaxation of controls on United States imports into this country until explicit guarantees of reciprocity have been given by the United States authorities.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

The United States is our largest export market, and while it protects its domestic market it does not discriminate against us in favour of other countries. Our policy remains, as stated at Montreal last September, to relax restrictions which discriminate against dollar goods as and when circumstances permit.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Minister aware that it is not enough for his right hon. Friend to make bold and bluff speeches about the growth in protectionism in some sections of American industry but that some action is required? Will he at least give an assurance that there will be no further liberalisation of American imports until we have some definite undertaking that there will be a change in this growing American practice of protectionism?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

We will certainly continue to make representations to the United States Government whenever action is taken by them, or anyone else, that harms unfairly the traders of this country. I think that my right hon. Friend's speech to the American Chamber of Commerce, on 11th March, which had the backing of the whole House, was well received by everyone. In that speech he very carefully said that whilst we should like to go further in the way of relaxations we had to be sure that we could earn enough dollars to pay for any imports which would follow.

Mr. Jay

Will not the Government desist from the policy they have followed in the last six months of making unilateral concessions on dollar goods in one month only to find some new restrictions placed on our goods by the United States sometime later? Is not this eminently a case for negotiating a bargain between the two countries?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I think we have to see it against the background that our exports to the United States continue to increase.

Mr. H. Wilson

But will the Minister note that this is not only a question of manufactured goods and engineering equipment? Last week, very serious evidence came out of discrimination against British shipping on routes in which the Americans think they have a special interest; and that they are, in fact, trying to revive the principle of the old Navigation Acts which we once operated and caused so much trouble with the American States in the eighteenth century?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

I have already said that we shall continue to protest whenever it is appropriate.

Mr. Gower

Is it not fair to say that even at the height of the American recession we maintained a very high level of exports to the United States?