HC Deb 14 July 1980 vol 988 cc1030-1
4. Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the implications for the United Kingdom's external trade of the threatened antidumping suits by the United States of America against European Economic Community steel industries.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Cecil Parkinson)

The United States Steel Corporation filed seven anti-dumping suits against Community steel exporters on 21 March. It is impossible to predict the outcome of the investigations now being carried out by the United States authorities The case is inevitably causing some disruption of our steel exports to the United States, and the Government view with great concern any threat to such exports in the longer term.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

When does my hon. Friend hope that this matter will be resolved? Does he agree that the longer it is delayed, the wider will be the implications and the greater the possible damage to our steel industry?

Mr. Parkinson

I agree with my hon. Friend. It is impossible to say when the cases will be settled before the courts, but there are signs that the American steel producers now realise that a negotiated settlement out of court would be the best way of approaching the problem, and we agree wholeheartedly with them.

Mr. Crowther

Without prejudging the cases of alleged dumping, may I ask whether the Minister is aware that a great deal of the difficulty facing British manufacturers is that they are having to cut their profits to the bone in order to be able to sell anything in the United States because of the unrealistically high exchange rate of sterling in relation to the dollar? What are the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends doing about that?

Mr. Parkinson

It is true that the problems in the American market are particularly grave, because the pound has moved more against the dollar than it has against several other currencies, but without abandoning the Government's economic policies—which are aimed at attacking inflation, which is the real cause of our exporters' problems—there is nothing that we can do to adjust the exchange rate. We have no intention of changing our economic policies. It is the combination of a strong exchange rate and a high rate of inflation that is the problem. Once inflation is under control, I do not believe that the exchange rate will be the problem.

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