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Cotton Textiles (Hong Kong)

Volume 721: debated on Thursday 25 November 1965

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33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the effect on Hong Kong of his future arrangements for textile imports into Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.

The opportunities for Hong Kong's exports of cotton textiles to this market should be slightly improved by my proposals, which provide for a modest element of growth year by year.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Hong Kong the Board of Trade's recent decision was regarded frankly as in breach of Clause 9 of the 1962 Agreement, and that it therefore created a very bady psychological effect there? Why could not the Minister have given more warning of his intentions? Can he give an assurance now that there will be no further erosion of the Hong Kong position in the future arrangements now to be negotiated?

The hon. Gentleman seems to be misinformed. Under the proposals Hong Kong received a "country quota" identical to that which she has had since 1962, plus a 1 per cent. growth a year. This growth figure will apply to imports generally and is designed to maintain for imports and for domestic producers their present share of the British market. In fact, there is an increase.

Is my hon. Friend aware that during the last five years imports from Hong Kong have risen by 62 per cent. in respect of clothing, and by 27 per cent. in respect of textiles? Is my hon. Friend aware that our whole industry is expecting him to go right ahead with Labour's policy on textiles?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the main problem facing Hong Kong at the moment is the question of carry-over from one year to the other? They were given only very short notice that the carry-over would not be permissible in this final year of the agreement. When will the new agreement be announced?

The hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that the question of the carry-over was discussed in this House by Questions to, and Answers by, my right hon. Friend on 18th November.