§ 7. Mr. A. Royle
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what percentage of Hong Kong's exports to Great Britain could surmount the Common Market external tariff if it were applied by this country.
§ 9. Lord Balniel
asked the Secretary of State far the Colonies if he is aware of the concern felt in Hong King regarding the Common Market negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the safeguards that it is planned to obtain in Brussels for the colony.
§ Mr. Sandys
It is not possible, because of many unknown factors, to estimate the percentage of Hong Kong's exports to Britain which would be excluded, if the common external tariff 191 were to be applied by Britain. I am, however, aware of the concern felt in Hong Kong, and the representations I have received have been carefully considered. The European Community did not feel able to agree to the proposal which we made at the beginning of the negotiations that Hong Kong should be eligible for association. We are accordingly seeking alternative methods to safeguard the Colony's essential interests. The negotiations 'are still proceeding.
§ Lord Balniel
Is it not a fact that one-third of the total population of Hong Kong are refugees from Communist China? Is it not expected that there will be an adverse swing in the competitive position of Hong Kong's trade with this country amounting to about 45 per cent. unless special terms are obtained for Hong Kong in the final Common Market negotiations? Would that swing not be very damaging to the position of the West in that part of the world?
§ Mr. Sandys
Of course, I am well aware of the congestion problem created by this steady flow of refugees from China across the border. As regards the negotiations in Brussels, I do not think I can say mare than that we are very well aware of the quite exceptional importance of exports for Hong Kong, which really has no other means of livelihood.
§ Mr. Healey
Since the Common Market countries appear to have agreed yesterday that Singapore, whose economic problems are similar to those of Hong Kong, should have the same sort of rights for exports and manufactured goods as proposed for India, Pakistan and other Asian countries, cam the right hon. Gentleman at least say whether Her Majesty's Government are requesting these rights for Hang Kong and, if so, what is the attitude of the Common Market countries towards that request?
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not think that I can go into the details about exactly what is going on in Brussels in reply to a supplementary question.