HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc911-3
3. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the import prices both before duty and after landing of the various makes of car of East European manufacture; and what representations about these prices he has received from British manufacturers.

15. Mr. Neubert

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from British Leyland or Chrysler regarding dumping of COMECON cars in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Deakins

Retail prices are available for these cars, but I cannot disclose import prices, since to do so would breach the confidentiality of information obtained by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise under their statutory powers.

Informal discussions about these imports have taken place between officials and representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, but I have received no representations directly from British Leyland or Chrysler.

Mr. Miller

I shall resist the temptation to give the Minister the landed prices, which are in my possession. Does he accept that the import price of these cars from Eastern Europe is up to £400 below the imported landed prices of continental cars with the same equipment? Will the hon. Gentleman seriously consider their pricing and the possibility of taking some action against dumping, which is different in terms of State-managed economies from what it is in free economies, under the GATT rules?

Mr. Deakins

The import penetration of these cars was 1.68 per cent. in 1975. I assure the House that should the industry wish us to consider anti-dumping action we would be prepared to look into the matter.

Mr. Neubert

If the Polski Fiat is not a case of dumping, will the hon. Gentleman say how it is possible for it to undercut the selling price of perhaps its closest competitor, the Morris Marina, by nearly 25 per cent.?

Mr. Deakins

Without evidence I do not know whether this is a case of dumping. There are special procedures for determining whether imports from non-Market countries are being dumped, and, if so, what the margin is.

Mr. Ford

Does my hon. Friend agree that, although it is difficult to prove dumping, it would be more helpful if, before they were allowed to import them, importers were obliged to demonstrate that the goods they wished to import were not to be dumped?

Mr. Deakins

That may be helpful in some respects, but such a major change to the GATT anti-dumping code could also be used against successful British exports overseas.

Mr. Tim Renton

Will the Minister accept that prima facie there is clear evidence that these cars are being dumped in this country? During the forthcoming visit of Mr. Gromyko, will he take the opportunity to emphasise to the Russians that a bilateral trade agreement means that there are two sides to a bargain?

Mr. Deakins

On the question of dumping, it must begin by steps being taken by the industry concerned. The industry knows what it is necessary to do if there is to be a ban on dumping. The case must be based on a threat of material injury. In other words, the ball is in the industry's court.

7. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the foreign car imports in numbers and value into the United Kingdom for the last convenient year; what proportion of the total market they took; how this compares with the last month; and what were the numbers of Japanese cars in these periods.

Mr. Shore

In 1975, 452,000 cars were imported, including 125,000 from Japan. One-third of registrations last year and about the same so far this year were accounted for by foreign cars. With permission, I shall circulate the full figures in the Official Report.

Mr. Stonehouse

Do not these serious figures predicate the collapse of the British motor car industry in 10 or 15 years' time, apart from specialised cars? I appreciate what the Secretary of State said in support of the British car industry, but what does he intend to do immediately to improve its efficiency and performance, so that this trend can be stopped?

Mr. Shore

It would be a defeatist attitude simply to extrapolate trends. That is one of the vices of Britain at present, in a more general context. I do not envisage a collapse of the British motor car industry. On the contrary, I envisage a very strong revival, enormously assisted

Total Imports
Number ('000's) Value (£million cif) Market* penetration Percentage Imports from Japan Number ('000's)
1975 452.1 516.5 33.2 125.0
January 1976 37.6 52.5 32.5 11.1
February 1976 N/A N/A 36.1 N/A
* Foreign cars registered as a proportion of all registered cars.
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