HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc918-23
8. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what initiative he is taking towards the development of an EEC antidumping policy; and if he will make a statement.

10. Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will have discussions with his EEC colleagues on anti-dumping measures.

24. Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will have discussions with other EEC Ministers about antidumping measures.

Mr. Shore

There already exists an EEC regulation which governs the handling of anti-dumping cases and reflects the GATT obligations of the Community. I have had conversations with both member States and members of the Commission on anti-dumping matters. There is also an EEC Anti-Dumping Committee of which the United Kingdom is a member and which provides a forum for continuing discussion of these problems.

Mr. Arnold

Since about half of the anti-dumping measures opened by the Community have concerned State trading nations, and given our own problem in this respect, would not a further attempt at the formulation of a joint policy buttress national efforts?

Mr. Shore

The present situation is that anti-dumping powers in relation to third countries remain with this Government until the summer of 1977. During this period it is, therefore, for us to take action on our own account. There is an increasing interchange of views within the Community about trading relations with the countries of Eastern Europe and I have no doubt that anti-dumping policy, among other things, will form part of an evolving policy.

Mr. Morrison

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that his answers on dumping this afternoon have given the impression that while many discussions have taken place there has been no action? When will he take some action?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman has made an interesting observation. We have a number of actions which are being formally investigated under our own powers. By contrast, I can point out to the hon. Gentleman that within the EEC, where the dumping powers of the original nation States have been taken over by Brussels, there are only five cases formally under investigation. On any reasonable comparison between this country and others we shall not be found to be in any way behind.

Mr. John Garrett

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last week yet another Norwich footwear factory announced its closure, and that this was due as much as anything else to the dumping of footwear from COMECON countries? Will my right hon. Friend look into the possibility of imposing quotas on imports of footwear from COMECON countries in the same way as he has done for woollensuits?

Mr. Shore

My hon. Friend will have seen the announcement that I made on 10th March to the effect that the three principal suppliers of leather footwear from Eastern Europe have entered into voluntary agreements, more stringent and with wider coverage than the agreements they entered into and upheld during last year.

Mr. Higgins

On what criterion has the Secretary of State fixed the figure to which his hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) referred? Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that action is taken with respect not only to dumping of goods but to dumping of services? Is he aware that there is a great deal of concern that Russian merchant shipping is at the moment competing on an unfair basis, which may endanger both the contribution that British shipping makes to the balance of payments and the future size of our merchant marine?

Mr. Shore

The question of the dumping of services is a separate matter. It is one to which we have given a good deal of thought and which was the subject of a substantial exchange of questions last month. The criterion we have sought for footwear has been to hold exports at the level that obtained in 1974, was agreed for 1975, and is to be continued in 1976.

19. Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will review legislation and arrangements to stop dumping of overseas goods in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Shore

I am keeping our antidumping procedures under constant review, but of course I have to pay proper regard to our international obligations.

Mr. Madden

Will my right hon. Friend consider making a major statement setting out the Government's policy and procedure on dumping, in order to dispel the widespread belief, particularly within the textile industry, that the Government are turning a blind eye to blatant instances of dumping that are adversely affecting British industry?

Mr. Shore

I thank my hon. Friend for that suggestion. I shall certainly give it very serious thought. I think there is some misunderstanding of the Government's position and attitude on anti-dumping matters and if I concur with my hon. Friend's suggestion I shall see that a substantial statement is made.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Will the right hon. Gentleman send a special delegation to Brussels to look into the question of excessive imports of Italian washing machines into this country, as did the French last week when suffering from excessive imports of Italian shoes and women's tights? Will he also look into the question of the Italian Government's subsidies on credits and industrial investment?

Mr. Shore

I shall consider carefully the hon. Gentleman's suggestion for dealing with the alleged dumping of washing machines from Italy in the United Kingdom market. As he will recognise, even if I thought the evidence was so strong that a substantial representation should be made, this is a matter that the Commission of the EEC has the power to decide.

Mr. Golding

Is my right hon. Friend aware that electric motor manufacturers believe that the application of the present anti-dumping laws is a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted? In this instance, the system could lead to the destruction of the standard electric motor manufacturer in this country?

Mr. Shore

I frequently hear from my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite of their concern, which I have no doubt is genuine and legitimate, on behalf of particular industries in this country. In a number of cases I am surprised that there has been no representation to my Department by the representative body of the industry concerned. My hon. Friend will understand that we are inevitably impeded in our action unless the industry puts forward a formal submission.

Mrs. Kellet-Bowman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his procrastinating reply will bring further dismay to the Lancashire textile industry? As he has admitted that the Government are responsible for anti-dumping measures vis-à-vis third countries, will he introduce immediate legislation to expedite anti-dumping action and use administrative measures to stop the rest of the textile industry from being wrecked?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Lady knows that we are bound to follow the international code to which we and other countries have subscribed, and our own remaining anti-dumping powers. There is no procrastination on our part. We are willing to act on any serious submission as soon as the firms themselves can give us the evidence.

Mr. Mark Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend take pleasure, with me, at the fact that Courtaulds, in my constituency, is now recruiting labour on a large scale? That must be a sign of an export-led upturn in the textile industry. Will he confirm that, as the case history of the television tube industry indicates, it is very difficult to take any action on dumping when there is a dispute within the trade body?

Mr. Shore

In his latter remarks, my hon. Friend gets close to the heart of the matter. An industry which is affected may often be divided, or one part of the industry may take a view on anti-dumping which is different from that of another adjacent section of the production process. I am pleased to hear that there has been an upturn in that part of the textile industry represented by Courtaulds, in his constituency, and I very much hope that as a result of the MFA agreement entered into last year there will be more work and output in the British textile industry this year.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

If the right hon. Gentleman does make the definitive statement asked for by his hon. Friend, will he include in it details of the sort of evidence that an applicant should enclose with his application? Provided that a prima facie case is made out, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that his Department will not act in a neutral capacity but will positively assist the applicant in obtaining the evidence, because often only the Department can get it and the application cannot?

Mr. Shore

Yes, Sir. We are only too pleased to assist British firms or industries in the presentation and the compilation of evidence in anti-dumping cases. We fully accept and understand that in some cases the evidence is available mainly through our diplomatic channels abroad. The procedures are set out in the booklet that we make available to anyone who raises the matter with us. I am willing to look at that further, and if there are any doubts to clarify them.

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