Commonwealth and G.A.T.T. Countries

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th May 1963.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 16th May 1963

asked the President of the Board of Trade what con- sideration has been given to, and consultation with other Commonwealth countries initiated on, the proposals sent him by the honourable Member for Chigwell for amendments to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade designed to free and foster trade within the Commonwealth and to reduce tariffs within this and other groups of nations; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Alan Green Mr Alan Green , Preston South

I would refer my hon. Friend to the communiqué which was issued after the meeting of the Commonwealth Trade Ministers on 14th May.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Is my hon. Friend aware that that communiqué and conference disappointed many of us very much? Is not some modification of the "no new preference" provisions of the G.A.T.T. as suggested, for example, in these proposals prepared by the Commonwealth Industries Association, necessary if Commonwealth preferences, now in danger of being further squeezed by the Kennedy Round, are to be brought into line with the requirements of the modem Commonwealth—or have the Government decided to do away with it altogether?

Photo of Mr Alan Green Mr Alan Green , Preston South

We conferred with our Commonwealth friends about methods of improving their relative position within expanding world trade. The expansion of world trade is surely as much in the interests of the Commonwealth countries as it is in ours or those of any other country.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

Will my hon. Friend tell me why we have committed ourselves in advance of the discussion to a slavish support for the Americans' view of what they want on the Kennedy Round of negotiations?

Photo of Mr Alan Green Mr Alan Green , Preston South

My hon. Friend has used rather imaginative terms in describing Her Majesty's Government's attitude towards the Kennedy Round. The Kennedy Round is part of a discussion within G.A.T.T., and the American representatives come to that round armed with more powers for reductions of their own tariffs than had previously been the case. We have welcomed this. We are not slavishly committed to any particular thing within G.A.T.T.