HC Deb 08 March 1967 vol 742 cc297-8W
136. Mr. Thornton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that imports of cotton piece goods from Portugal in the month of January, 1967 were equal to 30 per cent. of cotton piece goods imports from Portugal for the whole of 1966, and equal to 66 per cent. of the total for the whole of 1965; and whether he will hasten action to deal with this damaging situation.

Mr. Jay

I know that Portuguese imports rose sharply after the removal of the Temporary Import Charge. But following discussions which I have recently had with the Portuguese, I have every reason to expect that the rate of Portuguese exports to this country this year will be substantially below that of recent months.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Portuguese cotton industry is placed in an unfairly advantageous position in competition with Lancashire by its exemption from taxes and the granting of other incentives under a law passed in 1963, by large imports of raw cotton from Mozambique at under world prices, and by the low wages paid to Portuguese cotton workers; and if he will make a further statement on the results of his representations to Portugal on this matter.

Mr. Jay

The Portuguese authorities state that they operate a price equalisation system to ensure that exporters of cotton textiles do not pay more than world market prices for raw cotton from the Portuguese overseas territories. An E.F.T.A. Working Party on Government Aids is studying this.