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Paper Products (Duty-Free Quotas)

Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of state for Trade what action he has taken in connection with the current negotiations over duty-free quotas for imported paper products to ensure adherence to the undertaking given by the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) to the Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments on Wednesday 15th February.

I said to the Committee that the representations I had heard would weigh heavily with me when considering the 1979 duty-free quotas, but I also stated that I could not undertake that there would be no increases next year. Although the United Kingdom paper-making industry is still facing considerable difficulties, there has been a slight improvement in output and capacity utilisation in the past year. In the current consultations, the Government have sought as in previous years to maintain a fair balance between the interests of the British user industries and the aspirations of the EFTA countries under the free trade agreements. Any increases granted will be restricted to quotas where United Kingdom users have a strong interest and where, in the Government's view, there would be no more than insignificant effects on United Kingdom manufacturers.