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Exports To Japan

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what areas of discrimination currently exist against British exports to Japan; what was the position over each of the past four years; and what action he is taking or intends to take to improve the United Kingdom's trade balance with that country.

The main areas of discrimination include the high import duties on Scotch and confectionery, the quotas on leather and the distribution and pricing policies of the State tobacco monopoly. Some concessions were introduced into the tariffs on Scotch earlier in the year. The EEC Commission is pursuing these questions bilaterally and in the multilateral trade negotiations, and the Government use every opportunity to press our case, too. Over the past few years, the Government and the EEC Commission have also pursued a number of other sectoral problems which have deterred our exporters. These have included Japanese standards and test procedures on, for example, cars, pharmaceuticals and marine diesel engines. Japan has responded to these representations and changes have been introduced. For example, the application of the 1978 emission standards to foreign cars has been deferred for three years, and reciprocal testing arrangements for cars have been made. Further representations will be made as necessary. The main obstacle to exporters, however, has been the depressed state of Japan's domestic demand and her high level of self-sufficiency in manufactured goods. Together with the EEC, the Government have been pressing Japan to adopt policies which will eliminate these obstacles, lead to more imports of manu- factured goods and so reduce Japan's global current account surplus. Japan has undertaken to increase her real growth rate by 7 per cent. And to reduce her global surplus in fiscal year 1978. This pressure will be maintained, for example, at the next round of EEC/Japan high level consultations at the beginning of December.