HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1484-5
14. Mr. Deakins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make it his policy that the Declaration of Intent in the Treaty of Accession to the EEC to safeguard the interests of Asian countries should not be prejudiced as a result of the forthcoming negotiations for Association in Yaoundé III.

Mr. Amery

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Deakins

Would not the interests of Asian countries be much better protected by getting the Common Market to adopt our generalised preference scheme rather than by negotiating a series of preferential trade agreements which not only play one poor country off against another and break the rules of GATT but also strengthen protectionist sentiments in the United States?

Mr. Amery

Asian Commonwealth countries will not only benefit from the generalised preference scheme of the enlarged Community; they have an undertaking that it will be the enlarged Community's continuing objective to expand and reinforce existing trade relations and that the Community will be ready to examine problems which could arise in the future with a view to finding a proper solution. I think that what the Community is offering is better than what the hon. Gentleman is suggesting.

Sir D. Dodds-Parker

This will be discussed in Zaire towards the end of March by the African Committee of the European Parliament. Will my right hon. Friend give guidance—which I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will, before long, be present to support—on what the general line should be?

Mr. Amery

We shall do our best to express our views in the appropriate direction, with which I think my hon. Friend will agree.

Mr. Shore

The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the offer of association to the African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries will, by excluding the Asian Commonwealth, have the effect of breaking up the whole Commonwealth trade system. That is one clear effect. That being so, surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree——

An Hon. Member


Mr. Shore

I hear someone saying that that is nonsense, but it is a serious problem. Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the immediate effect will be to deny Indian tobacco preferential access to Britain, while at the same time maintaining a preferential market for East Africa in relation to Britain and the enlarged Community? That is one immediate practicable implication. Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of this, and does he not agree with my hon. Friend that it would be a far better solution, not only for the Commonwealth but for world trade generally, if we had a generalised preference system rather than any special arrangement for a specialised trade agreement with the Commonwealth Asian countries?

Mr. Amery

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman knows that none of the Asian countries concerned has expressed any desire to be associated—in the formal sense of the word—with the Community. He will appreciate—perhaps he slightly overstated the case without meaning to when he talked about the "immediate" result—that the tariff preferences will not be phased out until 1st July 1977.

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