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Footwear (Exports)

Volume 978: debated on Monday 4 February 1980

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action is being taken to counter the effect of Canadian import controls which restrict opportunities for British exports such as footwear.

The EEC Commission has had extensive discussions with the Canadian Government, and both they and the United Kingdom Government have repeatedly stressed the harm done to our footwear manufacturers by Canadian restrictions on footwear imports. I am not aware of any other quantitative Canadian import controls which cause concern to United Kingdom exporters.

What action are the Government taking to ensure that footwear imported into this country does not come in at below the cost of production? Further, is my hon. Friend satisfied that that action is adequate and, if not, what further steps does he intend to take?

We have an extensive range of controls, especially on footwear from low-cost countries. If my hon. Friend can suggest ways of strengthening those controls, I shall be happy to hear from him. They are extensive and they are in operation. However, we propose to press the Canadian Government to stand by their assurance that their restrictions will be removed in November.

Is the Minister aware that the dumping of leather cloth from Canada and elsewhere has undermined the leather cloth manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom to the extent that there is now asset stripping and factories are collapsing with resulting unemployment?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, anti-dumping action is now for the EEC. We have an anti-dumping unit in the Department that is available to help industries with information that establishes dumping. If the hon. Gentleman will put the leather cloth manufacturers in touch with me I shall do what I can to help.