HC Deb 14 May 1973 vol 856 cc1007-8
14. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consultations Her Majesty's Government are having with EFTA countries which are not members of the EEC concerning the forthcoming GATT negotiations.

Sir G. Howe

We are in constant contact with these countries, as with our other trading partners outside the EEC, on all trade matters of current interest.

Mr. Marten

May we have an assurance that the Government will not desert our ex-partners from EFTA when they come to the GATT negotiations, and will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that, as an independent country, we are free to have trade consultations with, for example, Norway and Sweden in relation to the forthcoming GATT negotiations?

Sir G. Howe

Our former EFTA partners, like any other trading partners, are free to express their point of view to us at any time. We would never ignore them, whether in the context of the GATT negotiations or otherwise.

Mr. Deakins

Have the Government tried to get any discussions going in OECD on a general European approach to the forthcoming negotiations, since the whole of Europe will be vitally affected by the decisions taken this autumn?

Sir G. Howe

The right hon. Gentleman is right to emphasise the extent to which the whole of Europe can be affected by decisions taken in the GATT negotiations. The Government are exercising their right to make this point clear in every forum that is available to them, not least by means of the influence which they are able to bring to bear within the EEC itself.