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Imperial Preference (Treaty Limitations)

Volume 499: debated on Thursday 24 April 1952

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29.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of international treaties entered into by the United Kingdom which prevent the extension and development of Imperial Preference.

Following is the information:

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade prevents member Governments from granting preference margins in excess, broadly speaking, of those prevailing on a base date which, in the case of the United Kingdom, is 10th April, 1947. In addition, the United Kingdom has, both under the General Agreement and under bilateral treaties and agreements, commitments as to the maximum extent of particular margins of preference, and commitments not to increase above stated levels the rates of duty on particular classes of goods when imported from foreign countries; these commitments limit the extension and development of Imperial Preference.
Further, as a party to the Congo Basin Treaties and as Administering Authority under the United Nations Trusteeship system, the United Kingdom has commitments which prevent the institution of Imperial Preference in territories which fall within the Conventional Basin of the Congo and the scope of the Trusteeship Agreements respectively.

List of international treaties and agreements referred to in paragraph 1 above.

MULTILATERAL

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; Protocol of Provisional Application signed at Geneva on 30th October, 1947 (Cmd. 7258).

BILATERAL

Argentina—Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce of 1st December, 1946 (Cmd. 5324).
Cuba—Commercial Agreement of 19th February, 1937 (Cmd. 5867). (See note (a) below.)
Denmark—Agreement and Protocol relating to Trade and Commerce of 24th April, 1933 (Cmd. 4424) and Supplementary Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce of 19th June, 1936 (Cmd. 5400). (See note (b) below.)
France—Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce with Protocols of 27th June, 1934 (Cmd. 4632) and Exchange of Notes regarding the importation of Raffia of French Origin and of British East African Coffee and New Zealand Kauri Gum, 16–23rd July, 1937 (Cmd. 5558). (See note (c) below.)
Greece—Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 16th July, 1926 (Cmd. 2790). (See note (d) below.)
Iceland—Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce of 19th May, 1933 (Cmd. 4331).
India—Trade Agreement of 20th March, 1939 (Cmd. 5966). (See note (e) below.)
Poland—Agreement in regard to Trade and Commerce of 27th February, 1935 (Cmd. 4984).
Sweden—Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce of 15th May, 1933 (Cmd. 4421). (See note (f) below.)
Turkey—Agreement of 3rd February, 1940, amending the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1st March, 1930 (Cmd. 6171).
U.S.A.—Trade Agreement of 17th November, 1938 (Cmd. 5882). (See note (g) below.)
Notes.—(a) Cuba reserves the right under Article 7 (4) of the Agreement of 1937 to terminate the Agreement at three months' notice if the United Kingdom should increase the differences which existed on 1st May, 1936, between the duties on Cuban sugar and tobacco and those on Commonwealth sugar and tobacco.
(b) Of the obligations on the United Kingdom Tariff arising out of the Agreements with Denmark, only the binding of free entry for bacon is now operative. The other tariff obligations are in suspense while the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is operative between the United Kingdom and Denmark.
(c) There is an oral understanding that the Agreement relating to Trade and Commerce of 1934 is suspended so long as both parties to it are contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
(d) By an Exchange of Letters dated 21st February, 1951, it was agreed that the tariff provisions of this Treaty of Commerce and Navigation should remain inoperative for such time as both the United Kingdom and Greece are contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
(e) Article 7 of this Agreement contains an undertaking that the United Kingdom will maintain free entry for imports from all sources of the following products:—
  • Shelac, seed lac, stick lac and other varieties of these lacs.
  • Jute, raw.
  • Myrobalans.
  • Mica slabs and splittings.
  • Hemp of the variety crotalaria juncea, not further dressed after scutching or decorticating; tow of such variety of hemp.
(f) Negotiations for the formal abrogation of this Agreement are in progress.
(g) This Agreement is inoperative so long as both parties are contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.