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Australian Import Tariff

Volume 181: debated on Monday 19 August 1907

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To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the Report of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Intelligence, showing that the proportion of the Australian import trade which is in the hands of British firms has fallen from 71·3 per cent. in 1891–5 to 58·3 per cent. in 1901–5, while that of foreign countries has risen from 17·1 per cent. to 28 per cent.; whether, by the new Australian tariff, a preference is granted on articles of British produce and manufacture, the annual value of which is estimated at between £1,200,000 and £1,300,000; and whether His Majesty's Government can do anything, consistently with their fiscal policy, to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in an effort to promote trade between the United Kingdom and Australia.

I have seen the Report referred to. I understand that the Commonwealth Government estimate the value of the preference to be accorded to British goods under their new tariff at about the amount quoted in the Question. I have, however, no copy of the complete tariff, and I am consequently unable to verify the figures or to say whether on the whole conditions in regard to British trade have been improved by the changes of duty. It is the desire of His Majesty's Government to do anything in their power consistently with their policy to promote trade between the United Kingdom and Australia, and I hope that the appointment of commercial agents will do something in this direction.