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United States (Cargo Preferences)

Volume 656: debated on Monday 19 March 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that the United States Government are applying their cargo preference legislation to cargoes financed out of the United States contribution to the United Nations Congo Fund; and what conditions Her Majesty's Government are applying to the British contribution.

Yes, Sir. I am aware that the United States Government attach certain conditions to their contributions to the United Nations Congo Fund. Her Majesty's Government have applied no conditions to their own contribution.

But if the Government of the United States cannot afford to make this contribution without strings like this, how can we? What representations have Her Majesty's Government made about it?

I think that our view on the matter is well known. Our view is that the transport of goods by ocean freight, especially when they form part of multilateral assistance, should be carried out on a free-market basis with a minimum of national preference.

It is bad enough that the United States should continue this pernicious evil of adopting preference legislation in relation to the cargoes out of its own financial arrangements, but is it not even worse when the money comes out of the United Nations Congo Fund to which the United States only makes a contribution, as we do? Is it not time that we really talked turkey to these people?

I think it is right to say that we did not, in fact, make a contribution in 1961 to the total—[HON. MEMBERS: "We did."]—but out of the total contribution to the United Nations Congo Fund two-thirds has been paid by the United States. The position is that if in future we were to make a contribution we should, according to the ruling made by the late Secretary-General, be able to attach conditions. Obviously, I cannot anticipate what Her Majesty's Government decision on that would be at the moment.

Would the Lord Privy Seal give an assurance that every opportunity will be taken of pointing out to the United States that this rampant flag discrimination goes right across the policy of trade liberalisation preached by the Government of the United States for every other trade?

Our views on this matter are well known to the United States authorities.

Is not the hon. Gentle man aware that even if we do make a contribution to the United Nations Congo Fund it has never been part of our policy, ever since we terminated the Navigation Acts very many years ago, to adopt preference legislation of this kind?