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Polish Footwear

Volume 929: debated on Monday 4 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to be in a position to make a statement on the investigation started on 8th April 1976 into allegations of the dumping of men's footwear by Poland.

I announced on 3rd March that we had obtained a satisfactory undertaking on the future price levels of men's leather sandals from Poland. No other formal investigations into Polish footwear are in progress. The application in connection with men's pigskin suede shoes is still under consideration.

Is the Minister aware—if he is not, he should be—that there are still considerable problems facing the British footwear industry, which will regard the further delay into the investigation, which is still going on, with some concern? Is he also aware that there is a shortage of orders in the home industry? When will he do more to encourage home production to keep jobs in this country rather than Eastern Europe?

I am well aware of the concern that has been expressed by the footwear industry, especially on imports. That is why we have taken extensive action to cut back imports from Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. We are also, for the third year running, holding down the level of imports of men's, women's and children's leather shoes from those three countries to between 5 and 10 per cent. below the 1974 level.

With regard to the continued investigation into imported pigskin suede shoes, a few days ago the EEC negotiated a voluntary restraint level on all leather footwear imported into the United Kingdom from Poland. For that reason I do not think that we could initiate a full antidumping investigation in respect of one part of the overall range. However, we will be having informal discussions with the Poles in the next few days on that issue.

Do the Government contemplate with satisfaction the prospect that in three months' time all these difficult and tedious matters will be dealt with by the bureaucracy of the EEC and not by Her Majesty's Government?

It is the fact that on 1st July anti-dumping powers pass to Brussels. We are, as I have said on a number of occasions, retaining an antidumping unit in order to assist British industry with anti-dumping applications. A member of our Anti-Dumping Unit has recently been taken on by the Commission, in order to ensure that the vigour we show will be taken on by that body.