HC Deb 06 December 1989 vol 163 cc297-8W
67. Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to reduce imported textiles into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Redwood

Imports of a wide range of textiles and clothing products from major low-cost exporting countries have for some time been restricted under bilateral agreements concluded by the Community within the framework of the multi-fibre arrangements and associated agreements. Where a surge in imports of a particular product not currently restricted is causing serious injury to domestic industry I am prepared to consider whether there is a case for action to put to the Community under the terms of the appropriate agreement. Each case has to be considered on its merits and in the light of the implications for the United Kingdom economy as a whole. It is not as a general rule in our interest to increase barriers to trade; indeed the Community is committed in the Uruguay round to negotiate about phasing out the MFA on acceptable terms.

Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the current balance of payments deficit can be attributed to the importation of textile and clothing goods from outside the United Kingdom.

Mr. Forth

[holding answer 5 December 1989]: Information on the balance of trade in textiles and clothing is not available on the same basis as the current account of the balance of payments. The following table shows the relationship between these balances and that for total visible trade which is available on both bases.

United Kingdom Trade, 12 months ending October 1989
£ billion
Overseas Trade Statistics basis1 Balance of Payment basis2
Balance of trade in:
Textiles and clothing goods3 -3.6 n.a.
Total visible trade -28.9 -24.2
Current account balance4 n.a. -20.1
1 Exports valued free on board (fob); imports valued inclusive of insurance and freight (cif)
2 Exports and imports both valued exclusive of insurance and freight charges
3 Standard International Trade Classification, divisions 65 and 84
4 Includes services, transfers and other invisible transactions n.a. not available

Sources: Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom

United Kingdom Balances of Payments

82. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received regarding the multi-fibre arrangement from the textile industry.

Mr. Redwood

We have received comments on Professor Silberston's recent report on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement from the Apparel, Knitting and Textiles Alliance as well as from particular sectors of the textile and clothing industry. These comments are being taken into account in our consideration of the United Kingdom and EC position as negotiations on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement continue in the GATT Uruguay round.

107. Mr. Cryer

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the Silberston report on the multi-fibre arrangement for the textile industry.

Mr. Redwood

I announced publication of Professor Silberston's report on the future of the multi-fibre arrangement in my reply to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on 19 October at column176. Comments on the report have been received from a variety of sources, including the United Kingdom textile and clothing industry, the Trades Union Congress and organisations representing consumers and retailers. The report and these responses will be of help to the Government as the Community prepares its position for the final stages of the GATT Uruguay round negotiations on textile trade policy next year.