Motor Cars (United States and Canada)

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus 12:00 am, 22nd November 1967

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to secure the revocation of the waiver to Article I of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade granted in December, 1965, to the United States Government in respect of United States imports of motor cars from Canada, in view of the fact that the Canadian share of the United States market for imported cars increased two and a half times in 1966 while the United Kingdom share declined by one-third.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Exeter

Exports of motor cars from the United Kingdom to the United States of America rose from £40,500,000 in 1965 to £50,342,000 in 1966. The G.A.T.T. waiver falls due for review at the end of this year when the contracting parties will consider how far in the prevailing circumstances the United States will continue to need its cover to implement the agreement with Canada.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Would not the hon. Lady agree that the figures which she gave do not in any way refute the figures in the Question? Will she recall that the previous President of the Board of Trade gave me a categorical undertaking that if there was a diversion of trade this waiver would be withdrawn? As there has been a diversion of trade, are we to treat this as yet another of the Government's empty pledges?

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Exeter

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that the figures prove that there has been a diversion of trade. He might like to note that, in spite of a big rise in our exports to the United States market, Continental and Japanese cars did even better and our rate of increase has fallen off more sharply this year than theirs has. It is from those countries that our companies face the most serious competition.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will withhold signature of the Geneva Protocol to the agreement resulting from the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations pending assurances regarding proposals for quota restrictions on imports currently before the United States Congress.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

No, Sir. The Order giving effect on 1st July, 1968, to the first tariff reductions resulting from the Kennedy Round will be laid before Parliament in due course. It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to sign the Protocol when that Order has been approved.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be totally regrettable for this country to surrender our right to resist protectionist measures in the United States, particularly bearing in mind that those protectionist measures are being taken by a country which is running a very large visible trade surplus?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I think that it is extremely important to us in this country to do everything we can to discourage new protectionist measures in the United States. As the hon. Gentleman will know, we, along with many other industrial countries, have made strong protests on this subject. I should have thought that the danger of these measures had substantially receded in the last few weeks. In any case, the question is whether our refusal to sign the Protocol would be of any help in combating these protectionist tendencies. I think that it would be purely counter-productive.