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European Co-Operation

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement indicating the degree to which there has been reciprocity by the countries of Europe in response to our liberalisation of trade; and whether he is satisfied with the response.

The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation recently decided that member countries should liberalise at least 60 per cent. of their imports on private account from one another of food, raw materials and manufactured goods counted separately. Returns made to the Organisation to show the action taken in fulfilment of this decision indicate that nearly all the principal trading countries concerned have fully conformed to it. Further liberalisation is expected by 1st February, 1951, and, meanwhile, I see no reason to be dissatisfied.

Do not a number of the administrative difficulties which are put up by various countries have the effect of cutting down the benefit to us? Is it not a fact that owing to the influence of the utility scheme many countries are reluctant to do what they ought to do under this arrangement?

That and the other difficulties referred to by the hon. Member are being discussed with the countries concerned.

Is it not the case that under the scheme at present, industrial felts manufactured in this country cannot gain admission into Germany, whereas German industrial felts can be sold here at a lower price than in Germany? Is that not a form of organised dumping which these rules were framed to prevent?

If the hon. Member will put down a Question on these matters, I shall be glad to answer it.