asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he has received any representations from commercial circles in this country with regard to the proposal of the South African Commonwealth to give Germany, in its new commercial treaty, the same preferences on goods imported into South Africa as are at present enjoyed in this country; whether he has any information as to the exact position at present of this commercial treaty; and whether His Majesty's Government has conveyed to the South African Government the point of view of British manufacturers?
I have been asked to reply. I am aware of the views expressed by commercial circles in this country is regards the Treaty recently concluded between the Union of South Africa and Germany. I would, however, point out that while the Treaty provides that goods produced or manufactured in Germany will, on importation into the Union of South Africa, be entitled to the same treatment as similar goods produced or manufactured in any other country, this concession is subject to the proviso that in the case of goods in respect of which preferential treatment is, under existing Union legislation, specifically accorded to other parts of the British Empire, Germany will not be able to claim any minimum rates or rebates actually granted to other parts of the Empire. The Treaty does not come into force until the exchange of ratifications, which has not yet been effected. As regards the last part of the question, I would invite reference to the reply given on my behalf by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies to questions in the House on the 4th December.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, a body in which there is no politics, was so incensed over the matter that they sent a cable direct to the Government of the Union asking the Union not to proceed with the Treaty, as they regarded it as a direct attack on inter-Imperial trade?
I think my answer made it clear that the existing preferences given by South Africa to this country, which are greater than the total amount, of the preferences given by this country to South Africa, are still to be continued.