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Export Duties

Volume 436: debated on Wednesday 23 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of state for the Colonies if he will issue a statement showing, in respect of goods imported into Britain, what export duties are levied on such goods in various Colonies; and what subventions are given by Britain directly or indirectly, by preferences or otherwise, to the prices of such goods at the expense of British consumers.

As export duties are normal means of raising revenue in the Colonies there is a very large number of such duties levied by Colonial Governments on goods exported to this country as well as other destinations. I am arranging for a copy of an up-to-date list of such duties to be placed in the Library of the House. As regards the second part of the Question, Colonial exports do not at present receive any benefit from any subventions or price concessions in the United Kingdom market except in so far as those prices are increased as a result of preferential rates of import duty. Details of these preferences will be found in the United Kingdom Customs Tariff, but my hon. Friend should bear in mind that the preferences are today not having their normal effect on prices because in a number of cases the prices which this country is paying for the Colonial commodities concerned instead of being, as in normal times, higher than the world market prices because of the preference, are actually lower than the prices being paid currently for similar commodities sold by foreign producers to consumers outside the United Kingdom. It is, indeed, generally true that prices of Colonial commodities imported into this country are below the levels prevailing elsewhere.