HC Deb 11 May 1988 vol 133 c310
8. Mr. Gregory

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what tariff is imposed by Japan on United Kingdom sugar confectionery; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark

The Japanese tariff on United Kingdom sugar confectionery is 35 per cent. We shall be pressing in the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations for it to be reduced. Meanwhile, we are taking appropriate opportunities to tell the Japanese Government that we regard the level of the duty as excessive.

Mr. Gregory

We hear increasingly from the Government Front Bench about the round of discussions, but when will my hon. Friend stop drinking sake with the Japanese ambassador and get to grips with the problem, so that we may enjoy free and fair trade? There should be an opportunity for United Kingdom sugar confectionery and other manufactured goods—particularly, Scotch whisky—to enter the Japanese market.

Mr. Clark

The level of tariffs raised by the Japanese is on average lower than that raised by the European Community. If I may mention chocolate without having to answer a question about Rowntree, I point out to my hon. Friend that the tariff on chocolate has been reduced from 20 to 10 per cent. Our exports of confectionery to Japan amount to more than £4 million per annum, whereas its exports of confectionery to Britain total only £52,000.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Minister aware that we may not be in a position to export any chocolate to Japan shortly unless action is quickly taken on the matters referred to yesterday? We were discussing the possibility of a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission of the Nestle bid for Rowntree, and 42 per cent. of the company's shares were in foreign ownership by the end of the day. Is he also aware that Mr. Kenneth Dixon—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I called the hon. Gentleman on this subject yesterday. This question is about Japan.

Mr. Clark

I do not see how any of the factors that the hon. Gentleman mentioned will inhibit our exports of chocolate to Japan, which last year amounted to £1.2 million.

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