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Anti-Dumping Procedures

Volume 923: debated on Monday 10 January 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will bring forward proposals to announce measures laying the burden for disproving a dumping charge on the importer of the goods.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he will announce further measures to improve anti-dumping procedures.

Our procedures have been improved. My officials and Customs and Excise are currently studying whether importers should be asked to give information on the prices of goods in the country of origin.

Will the Minister give us more specific details about how procedures have been improved? Is it not a fact that a great many people are now dissatisfied with the way in which dumping allegations are handled in this country? It seems that we go round this course every time we have Questions on these matters. It seems that all we get from the Minister is jaw, with no specific action. If the onus were placed on the importer to disprove dumping, would not that be fair, quick and beneficial to many sectors of British industry?

The truth of the matter is that we carry out anti-dumping investigations quickly and efficiently in the light of the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969. I have looked at the debates that took place on that measure and it seems that the Opposition were relatively sleepy. They suggested no major amendments to the procedures that were implemented in the Act. It is wrong now to castigate the Government for acting in accordance with legislation that the Opposition at that time wholly accepted.

We have introduced anti-dumping provisions in approximately 17 cases over the past two years. That is a greater number than in any previous two years, including any period when the hon. Gentleman's party formed the Government. As for improvements in procedure, in the past few months we have for the first time introduced loss of jobs as a material injury criterion. That is an important change. We have also used provisional charges to duty in more cases. We are considering further changes. I do not wish to be explicit about them but they concern non-GATT signatories and State-trading countries.

On what date will responsibility for anti-dumping measures pass from Her Majesty's Government and the House to the EEC?

As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, it will pass on 1st July of this year. However, we have recently enlarged our own Anti-Dumping Unit so that it includes 26 officials. We shall be keeping it in operation and using it to press those in Brussels to ensure that they take the same firm attitude as we do on anti-dumping.

Will my hon. Friend explain why his Department seems so reluctant to impose provisional duties when a prima facie case of dumping appears to have been made? When will his Department reply to the complaint about the dumping of Eastern European clothing that was made in March 1976 by the Clothing Manufacturers' Federation, a reply to which the federation is still waiting?

We have introduced a provisional charge to duty on Brazilian men's footwear. In October we made a similar provisional charge to duty on Spanish stainless steel as well as in respect of Eastern European alarm clocks. I recognise that the latter is not the most significant of industries, but it is important to employers and employees in that industry. I am glad to tell my hon. Friend that we have now reached provisional conclusions on the application by the Clothing Manufacturers' Federation, which we shall be discussing this week with the federation.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that evidence of dumping has to be supplied by the industry concerned before the Government can investigate? Does he not think that the Government should have independent investigative powers?

We depend on information which industry has and which only industry can supply. That applies to the specific cases I have mentioned. There is expertise in Whitehall to work out whether there is justification for anti-dumping provisions. We are only too willing to discuss these matters with any industry and to assist it, especially in the use of posts overseas to gather necessary information.