§ 2.37 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they contemplate any relieving action with regard to export subventions at present being used by various countries either by way of differential rates of exchange or, more particularly, with regard to direct export subsidies being granted by France to her exporters in competition with exports not so assisted from the United Kingdom.]
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, this Question of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, as it first appeared on the Order Paper, asked what retaliatory action Her Majesty's Government contemplated. The noble Lord has changed the wording of the Question and now asks what relieving action is contemplated. I can assure the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government do not at the present time contemplate any retaliatory action. As regards relieving action, as my noble friend will be aware, our policy has been directed to securing the withdrawal of export subsidies by the countries which apply them. To this end, we have taken the lead in arranging for this question to be examined in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and we are presently considering whether to raise it in the forthcoming review of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. We are also ready, in all 1174 appropriate cases, to discuss the matter direct with other Governments. In this connection, my noble friend Lord Barnby will no doubt have noticed, with satisfaction, the text of the recent joint statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the German Minister of Economic Affairs.
§ LORD BARNBY
While thanking the noble Lord for his reply, may I ask him whether he will make representations in the proper quarter regarding the action of Uruguay in the matter of multiple exchange rates, which continues to be a menace to this country, and the continuance of export subsidies, particularly those given by France to her exporters in competition with our industries? Will the noble Lord urge that there appears need of Government action in both cases?
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, as the noble Lord is aware, the Uruguayan problem has been a vexed one for some considerable time. We are doing everything we can to obtain a satisfactory solution with regard to the French problem, and I will certainly bring the observations which the noble Lord has made to the attention of my right honourable friend. I think I can assure the noble Lord that my right honourable friend is already well aware of the matters upon which he has touched.