HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc663-4
11. Mr. Hunt

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement about the present position of the Kennedy Round of tariff reductions.

12. Mr. Hordern

asked the President of the Board of Trade what recent initiative has been taken by Her Majesty's Government in order to seek a solution to the negotiations on the Kennedy Round of tariff reductions.

Mr. Jay

As the statement is rather long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hunt

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for sending me an advance copy of that statement. Is he aware that there will be some disappointment that the British Government are not proposing to take any new initiative in this matter? Will he agree that in the interests of world trade in general and the increase in British exports in particular it is important that Britain should be seen to be making a positive lead in this field?

Mr. Jay

I think everyone knows that we are. We put in our exceptions lists last winter on the due date and we are trying to push the negotiations forward. We have to complete them before the middle of 1967. I hope that all countries will realise as well as us that if we lose the chance of achieving the result by then, we shall have missed a great opportunity.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a developing body of opinion which does not think that fiscal and monetary inducements for exports are the only answers and that more means must be found to get our goods on display at minimum cost to the manufacturer?

Mr. Jay

I think that refers to the next Question rather than to this one.

Following is the statement:

Since industrial exceptions lists were tabled in Geneva in November, 1964, the main activity in the Kennedy Round negotiations has been the unspectacular but essential work of examining, both in bilateral discussions and in wider groups, the scope for limiting the effects of exceptions and other problems on the proposed linear reductions in tariffs, particularly in key industrial sectors such as chemicals. Useful exploratory work has also been done on non-tariff barriers to trade and on problems of interest to the developing countries in the negotiations.

The Working Group on cereals has met on a number of occasions since offers were tabled in April and progress has been made. It has been agreed that offers relating to other agricultural products should be tabled on 16th September; but there is bound to be doubt whether this will be possible unless the European Economic Community as we should all hope, can resolve their present difficulties in time.

The time taken by these negotiations is mainly a matter of their wide scope and complexity. The present powers of the United States Administration to cut tariffs under the Trade Expansion Act run until June, 1967, and it has long been recognised that the stage of substantive negotiation towards a balanced package deal, covering industrial tariffs, non-tariff barriers and barriers to trade in agriculture, would probably not be reached until 1966.

No new initiative by the Government would be likely to affect this timetable and what is required is steady progress towards a comprehensive settlement. The policy of the Government is to continue to work in every way possible for a successful outcome of these negotiations.

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