§ Mr. Waller
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he now proposes to take under article 19 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, following the failure of the European Commission to come to a satisfactory agreement with the United States Government on unfair trade practices resulting from artificially low energy prices.
§ Mr. Cyril Smith
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement about the failure of the talks between the European Economic Community and the United States of America concerning problems arising from the upsurge of textile imports from the United States of America; and if, in that statement, he will refer to his statement of 15 December 1980, Official Report, Vol. 996, c. 49–50, and his intention to use options under article XIX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will now take unilateral and immediate action to deal more effectively with the unfair competition in textile and clothing entering the United Kingdom from the United States of America in accordance with the assurance given in the House on 15 December 1980, Official Report, Vol. 996, c. 49–50.
§ Mr. Parkinson
[pursuant to his reply, 30 March 1981, c. 3–4]: I do not think it is right to say that there has been failure in the talks between the Community and the United States. At the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Community held on 17 March the Commission presented a report of its recent discussions. Since it took up office in January the new United States Administration have deregulated oil prices and have announced their intention to remove export controls on certain types of naphtha. In addition, they have undertaken to pass on to the United States industry the views of the Community about the serious situation created by surges of exports of certain textile products to the Community.
The Council of Foreign Ministers agreed unanimously that this issue should be kept high on the agenda of EC/US relations. In particular, it invited the Commission to pay special attention to maintaining pressure for the deregulation of gas prices and to the damage being caused by the high level of United States exports to the United Kingdom. Further high level discussions are planned in the coming weeks, and I expect a further report from the Commission at the April meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers.
In the meantime, we are considering whether there is a case for unilateral action by the United Kingdom under article XIX of the GATT.