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European Countries (Trade Liberalisation)

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 13 April 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress he has to report on the liberalisation of trade between this country and other members of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.

My right hon. Friend advised the hon. Gentleman on 19th November that over 70 per cent, of the trade on private account between the member countries of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation had been freed from quota restrictions. There have been some further relaxations of these restrictions by Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom, and the percentage freed is now about 76.

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to make one point clear? Is it correct that the term "liberalisation" is now only applied to quantitative restrictions and not to tariffs? If that is so, can he say to what extent the removal of quantitative restrictions has been offset by the imposition of tariffs?

I was dealing in my answer, at any rate, with quantitative restrictions. Tariffs are a matter for the members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but I do not think that any increases in tariffs recently have offset the advantages of these relaxations of quantitative restrictions to which I have referred in my answer.

Is it not a fact that liberalisation applies generally except where there are quantitative restrictions?

Is it not a fact that the term "liberalisation" has a certain microscopic connotation?