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Export Subsidies

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 13 April 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made by Her Majesty's Government towards reaching agreement with member Governments of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and with Governments of other European countries on the subject of subsidies to exporters.

While some useful progress has been made in the discussions in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, no agreed proposal has yet emerged which we were satisfied would lead to the elimination of tax remission and similar schemes amounting virtually to export subsidies. Discussions continue and, meanwhile, we are renewing direct discussions with the German authorities to try to find an agreed means for resuming the forward move towards the progressive elimination of these devices.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, if agreement could be reached with European countries, it would make it easier to reach agreement with countries in a wider range? Can he give any specific information about France as well as Western Germany?

As regards the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I entirely agree with his view. I gather from Press reports that France is proposing to increase her percentage of liberalisation this week to 53 per cent. and on 1st November to 65 per cent., but those are Press reports only.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how much longer these discussions will continue and whether shortly after Easter we can be told the results?

The right hon. Gentleman knows how difficult it is to forecast how long discussions can go on, but I think that some progress has been made already, and we hope that further progress will be made without too much delay.

Will my right hon. Friend not agree that what we want is not progressive elimination of these measures but the total, immediate recession of them by Germany?