HC Deb 10 May 1995 vol 259 c745
17. Mr. Dunn

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations have been made to the Government of Japan about the trade barriers against British goods; and if he will make a statement. [21958]

Mr. Ian Taylor

We take every opportunity to make representations both directly and through the European Commission where the interests of British firms are damaged by trade barriers. We have regular and frank discussions with the Japanese Government on such issues. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade both visited Japan this year and raised current trade problems.

Mr. Dunn

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a general perception that exporters from the empire of Japan have easier access to our markets than do British exporters to the empire of Japan? Will my hon. Friend be ever determined to ensure ease of access to Japanese markets by our industrialists and that free trade actually is free trade?

Mr. Taylor

I can give my hon. Friend some good news. In the first quarter of this year, our exports to Japan were up 40 per cent. The changes that the Japanese Government are now making voluntarily and in response to the yen crisis are likely to lead to further opportunities for British business, which we enthusiastically support. Our relationship with Japan, which has further to go in some key sectors, is best resolved through the multilateral arrangements of the World Trade Organisation. We hope that, in an effort to build the WTO's credibility, all nations—including the United States—will take that into account. That is why we referred our problems with whisky supplies into Japan to the WTO, backed by the European Union in the last few days.

Mr. Pike

The Minister said that our net exports to Japan are up 40 per cent. What is the balance of manufactured trade between this country and Japan?

Mr. Taylor

We have a deficit in manufactured trade but the figure for overall visible trade is a good deal more positive and in credit. Our overall position is extremely important. In 1994, our exports to Japan totalled £2.9 billion and imports totalled £8.9 billion. Those are the full year figures, so I prefer to use those.

Forward to