§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will make a statement on duties on cotton loomstate imports of cloth from(a) China, (b) Egypt, (c) India, (d) Indonesia, (e) Pakistan and 90W (f)Turkey; if he will list the levels of import duties; when those duties came into effect; and for what reasons they were introduced; 
(2) if he will make it his policy to renegotiate import duties on cotton fabrics from (a) China, (b) Egypt, (c) India, (d) Indonesia, (e) Pakistan and (f) Turkey; and what discussions his Department has had on these matters with the European Commission; 
(3) what assessment he has made as to the extent to which European Union demand for 72 by 96, 30's/30's cc 4 by 1 weft sateen 50 inch and 56 inch, 100 per cent. cotton fabric and 140 by 48, 30's/10's cc 5 by 1 warp satin 50 inch and 59 inch, 100 per cent. cotton fabric exceeds European Union manufactured supply of these fabrics; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what recent representations he has received from those in the textile and clothing industries about the effect of recent increases in import duties on cotton fabrics; what assessment he has made of the impact of increased costs associated with such duties on profitability and company viability in the British textile and clothing sector; and if he will make a statement; 
(5) what studies his Department undertook prior to the imposition of higher import duties on cotton fabrics from (a) China, (b) Egypt, (c) India, (d) Indonesia, (e) Pakistan and (f) Turkey on the extent to which the fabrics could be sourced within the European Union; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Nelson
[holding answer 9 December 1996]: On 21 November 1996 the European Commission imposed provisional anti-dumping duties for six months on imports of unbleached cotton fabrics from China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey. The duty rates are set out in Commission Regulation (EC) No. 2208/96 of 18 November 1996 published in the Official Journal of the European Communities No. L295 of 20 November 1996. This is available in the Library of the House. The decision followed the Commission's preliminary investigation of a complaint that the products were being dumped in the Community by the countries concerned.
At this provisional stage, the Commission is obliged to consult member states but is able to impose duties on its own authority. My Department has received a considerable number of representations against the measures from companies in the textiles finishing sector and from the British Apparel and Textiles Confederation. Accordingly, and in the light of our own analysis, we told the Commission that we strongly opposed the duties because the adverse effects would far outweigh any benefits to EU producers of cotton fabrics.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade raised the matter personally with Sir Leon Brittan. Although Sir Leon ultimately decided to authorise the provisional duties, he has undertaken to carry out a thorough analysis of the balance of interests before deciding whether to propose that they be made definitive. The UK will vote against any such proposal, which to be implemented would require the support of a simple majority of member states. At present, the indications are that no such majority exists.