HC Deb 03 July 1985 vol 82 cc325-6
10. Mr. Phillip Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current balance of payments deficit with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Mr. Fletcher

Information on the United Kingdom balance of payments with individual countries is not available. In the period from January to May 1985 the United Kingdom had provisional crude trade deficits of £1,331 million with Japan, £76 million with South Korea and £184 million with Taiwan.

Mr. Oppenheim

My hon. Friend will be aware of the concern of hon. Members of all parties about the difficulties that our exporters experience in getting into those markets. However, is he aware that the inconsistencies and unfairnesses in our own duties and those of our European partners often make our case far more difficult to argue? For example, is my hon. Friend aware that recently penal anti-dumping duties were imposed on certain importers of Japanese electronic typewriters? It just happened that one of those companies had duties in excess of 50 per cent. imposed while two other companies, the wholesale prices of which were similar, had no penal duties imposed on them at all. The reason was that those two companies—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should ask a question, not give reasons.

Mr. Oppenheim

Is my hon. Friend aware that the two Japanese companies which had no duties imposed on them happened to be selling their products through Olivetti and Adler, their European distributors? As a result, British businesses are being charged extra for their electronic typewriters.

Mr. Fletcher

I should like to investigate the cases that my hon. Friend mentions. With regard to electronic typewriters, an anti-dumping case was opened against Japan in March 1984. The Commission found considerable evidence of dumping, and imposed definitive duties on imports of Japanese machines on 19 June last.

Mr. John David Taylor

Is it normal practice for the Government to encourage trade with a country from which they still withhold official recognition?

Mr. Fletcher

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Fallon

Instead of harping on about the difficulties of getting into those markets and lost orders, will my hon. Friend pay tribute to companies such as Davy McKee, which has just won a splended order in South Korea against Japanese opposition?

Mr. Fletcher

I am happy to do so, and to say that our exports to South Korea increased by almost 50 per cent. in the first four months of this year.

Mr. Madden

What steps are the Government taking to make sure that assurances given to British car component manufacturers following collaborative deals between British and Japanese motor vehicle producers are worth more than the paper they are written on?

Mr. Fletcher

I do not think that our car industry would enter into agreements with the Japanese which they, as British motor manufacturers, did not feel to be worth while.

Mr. Gould

What is the point of bleating about the Japanese if we are not prepared to compete with them seriously? As an example, what is the point of complaining, as the Prime Minister did, that the Japanese are holding the yen at an artificially low level when we are doing all that we can to hold the pound at an artificially high level against the yen through the use of damagingly high interest rates?

Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Gentleman was complaining that the pound was too low a short time ago.

Forward to