HC Deb 03 February 1987 vol 109 cc561-2W
Mr. Carttiss

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the settlement of the Community's trade dispute with the United States of America.

Mr. Channon

I wish to explain the agreement by the Government to the adoption of a Council decision on the conclusion of negotiations with the United States before it was possible for the Select Committee on European Legislation to scrutinise it.

On 30 January the Council of Ministers approved the terms of an agreement negotiated between the Commission and the United States to settle the protracted dispute between the two parties over the terms of Community enlargement. The main elements of the agreement provide for the Community, subject to the transitional arrangements applying to Portugal and Spain in their treaties of accession, to restore in respect of the enlarged Community the tariff rates previously bound in GATT in relation to the Community of Ten. Reduced levy quotas will be opened by the Community for the period 1 January 1987 to 31 December 1990 for imports into Spain of at least 2 million tonnes of corn and 300,000 tonnes of sorghum. Community tariffs on a series of other products will be reduced autonomously for the same period of four years. The arrangements will be reviewed in July 1990.

In view of the urgency of concluding the agreement by 30 January I decided not to withhold agreement to decisions until the Select Committee had had the opportunity to consider it. I regret that it was not possible for the normal scrutiny procedures to be followed in this case.

The Government warmly welcome this agreement, which is the means of averting an exchange of retaliatory and counter-retaliatory trade measures between the United States and the Community which would have had very serious consequences for EC-US trade, for the multilateral trading system and for progress in the new round of multilateral trade negotiations which is now beginning in GATT.