HC Deb 22 November 1976 vol 919 cc1875-7
22. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he is taking to support the representations made to the Commission of the EEC in May by the whole of the bearing industry in the EEC for protective measures to be taken against low-priced imports from Japan and the COMECON countries; and if he will ascertain when the Commission's response is likely to be published.

Mr. Meacher

Following an application for Community anti-dumping action against imports of roller bearings from Japan by the Committee of the European Bearing Manufacturers Association, the case has now been accepted for full investigation at Community level.

Mrs. Castle

In my Question I was referring not to anti-dumping but to the massive memorandum submitted by the European bearings industry to the Commission in May, which clearly shows that the Japanese share of the bearings market in Europe and the United States has been rising alarmingly in the past few years as a result of a deliberate price-cutting policy by Japanese industry. Will Her Majesty's Government make clear to Japanese industry that, unless it increases the price of its exports and voluntarily controls their volume, Her Majesty's Government will have no alternative but to impose import controls?

Mr. Meacher

The Government have made it clear that they are ready to consider a policy of selective import controls, but in this case it was British industry which chose the anti-dumping route. Having combined with the European Bearing Manufacturers Association, the British Government are prevented, now that we are part of the EEC, from taking action under Article 26 of the EEC antidumping regulations in terms of independent national action. We shall support the British industry in its representations, and as members of the EEC anti-dumping committee we shall consider the evidence obtained and the remedies to be applied.

Mr. Michael Morris

Will the Minister reconsider what the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said in her supplementary question? Is it not a fact that all the evidence was supplied to the Department early in 1976 and that what happened was that because the Department sat on the matter it went to the Commission? Is not the point at issue the price of the dumped imports rather than quota controls? Unless action is taken, are not the prospects for our industry severe?

Mr. Meacher

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the problem of dumped prices, which is the precise subject now being investigated at Community level. There were difficulties in regard to material injury criteria and in obtaining the support of the other major bearing manufacturers on the original application. Furthermore, there was a problem in obtaining the updated price relativities and discounts then ruling in Japan. That information took a couple of months to obtain, and by the time that evidence came forward application was being made at Community level.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is the Minister aware of the general dissatisfaction in the House about his answers on dumping questions concerning textiles, footwear and now ball bearings? When is a decision likely to be taken on anti-dumping action against the importation of ball bearings?

Mr. Meacher

I hope that the case will be quickly pursued and a conclusion reached at an early stage. We shall do all in our power to ensure that that happens. A total of 22 investigations has been pursued by the EEC since 1970. Aside from four which are now being investigated, of the remaining 18 some 15 secured satisfactory price undertakings.