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Volume 886: debated on Thursday 20 February 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the present tariff treatment of canned pineapple imported into this country from Malaysia is consistent with the declaration of intent annexed to the United Kingdom Accession Treaty with the EEC.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the situation on pineapple is at variance with the recommendation of the European Commission—a recommendation which was rejected by the Council of Ministers—concerning the treatment of this product under the generalised system of preferences? Is it not also at variance with the declaration of intent which was annexed and to which we are signatories, which would have helped Malaysia, and which instead, is giving preference to the former French colonies?

Under the United Kingdom system, imports of canned pineapple from Malaysia were included in the Community generalised preference scheme. There is a special tariff for certain canned pineapple, which is expressly designed to cover Malaysian exports. The United Kingdom share of that quota was not exhausted in 1974. The preferences given to Malaysian exports are at significantly lower rates of duty than those charged on imports from developed country sources.

Does my hon. Friend agree that as from 1st January 1975 the duty on imported pineapples has gone up from 4 per cent. to 8 per cent? If that is so, is not that a retrograde step?

These are matters about which we shall know after the consultations with the countries concerned.