Asian Commonwealth Countries and Pakistan

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham 12:00 am, 19th March 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the percentage loss of exports to the United Kingdom which Asian Commonwealth countries and Pakistan will sustain as a result of British entry into the EEC.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

No such estimate is possible. The effect of the gradual loss of Commonwealth preference in the United Kingdom market will in practice be substantially offset by the generalised preference scheme for developing countries operated by the Community and the enlarged Community has declared its willingness to seek solutions to any trade problems that may arise.

Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham

Even allowing for the last point that my hon. Friend has mentioned, may I ask whether he has seen the estimate made by the Overseas Development Institute that up to 40 per cent. of Asian Commonwealth exports to this country could be damaged? Will he give an assurance that the Government will not allow the phasing-out of these preferences until they are absolutely confident that such damage will not be sustained?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

If my hon. Friend has another look at the report, he will see that the figure of 39 per cent. refers not to the loss of trade but to the loss of preference. The way in which he expressed it exaggerated the situation. I should also point out that the extent of any success in trade depends on factors such as cost, the quality of the goods, the terms of delivery and the extent of local demand, which are not forecastable to the extent that my hon. Friend seems to suggest.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Would not my hon. Friend agree that 39 per cent. is 359 million dollars, which is a substantial sum?

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

I am sure that my hon. Friend and I, with our acute financial awareness, would not disagree about that, but I hope he will agree with me that the figure to which he refers is for the loss of preference and not the loss of trade.