HC Deb 18 November 1974 vol 881 cc876-7
9. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will open negotiations with the Japanese Government to facilitate the export of British vehicles to that country.

Mr. Deakins

The Japanese Government are well aware of our desire to expand sales of all British products, including vehicles, to Japan. But I am ready to consider making representations whenever specific evidence of barriers to our exports is brought to my attention.

Mr. Miller

I accept the Minister's assurance and I shall be happy to supply him with that information in a particular case. Does he accept the general point that if we are to make a success of the diversion of our resources into exports, about which the Chancellor was talking last week, his Department must pay attention to non-tariff barriers in general?

Mr. Deakins

Yes, indeed. Allegations have been made recently about hidden barriers on car exports, in particular to Japan, but the evidence available so far does not bear this out. There are, for example, the new motor regulations dealing with anti-pollution controls which the Japanese have introduced. These are available in English and, what is more, they will apply to imported cars one year later than to domestic Japanese-produced cars, so there is no hidden barrier to imports there.

Mr. Luard

Despite what my hon. Friend has just said, is it not a fact that there are frequent changes in the regulations applied by the Japanese Government to imports of motor vehicles and that this is making it extremely difficult for foreign exporters of motor vehicles to obtain adequate access to the Japanese market? Is it not a fact that the Japanese import only a tiny proportion of all the motor cars on Japanese roads whereas they are exporting very heavily all over the world? If they wish to continue to enjoy the benefits of markets in Europe and elsewhere, should they not make their own markets more easily accessible to British exporters?

Mr. Deakins

That might have been true up to about two years ago, but I can no longer accept the premise of that question. Japanese imports of motor vehicles totalled 18,000 in 1971 but 40,000 last year. They are currently running at an annual rate of 50,000. Furthermore, United States and German motor car manufacturers now control nearly 90 per cent. of the imported car market in Japan and have seen their sales increase threefold in the past few years.