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Zinc Prices

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Supply why the price of zinc in the United Kingdom is 720 per cent. above the 1938 average, as compared with 225 per cent. dearer than pre-war in the United States of America.

The following factors account for the difference in relative prices in the United Kingdom and the United States of America at the present time and in the pre-war period:—

  • (i) The price of zinc in the U.S.A. in 1938 averaged 4.61 cents a lb. (equivalent to about £21 0s. 0d. a ton at the rate of exchange then ruling) whereas the price in London in the same year averaged only £14 a ton.
  • (ii) It is only within the last six weeks that the internal price in the U.S.A. has fallen from 17.5 cents a lb. (£97 7s. 6d. a ton at the present rate of exchange) to 12.5 cents a lb. (£69 10s. 0d. a ton); near the beginning of that period (4th April) the price in the United Kingdom was reduced from £106 to £101 a ton.
  • (iii) The U.S.A. prices quoted in (ii) are exclusive, the United Kingdom prices inclusive, of costs of delivery.
  • (iv) We have to buy a large proportion of our zinc metal from the dollar area, but our dollar expenditure is kept to a minimum through our arrangements with the producers in the sterling area, by which we take as much zinc as possible from them. These arrangements include the periodical agreeing of prices and the selling price in the United Kingdom is based chiefly upon the prices so agreed. Current prices were agreed before the latest falls in the American price and the present selling price is related to our current costs.