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Dyestuffs (Imports)

Volume 980: debated on Monday 3 March 1980

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21.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the European Community agreement with the Republic of China, which will allow dyestuffs to be imported without duty.

China was admitted to the European Communities generalised scheme of preferences on 1 January this year. The duty-free treatment which as a result is enjoyed by industrial goods imported from China is subject in the case of some products to limitations. United Kingdom industry was consulted when these limitations were under discussion, but dyestuffs were not then mentioned as a sensitive area. It would be open to us to seek to have a ceiling applied to duty-free imports of the dyestuffs concerned, and we are in touch with the United Kingdom industry to see whether there is a case for action.

Is the Minister aware that that statement will be welcomed if it is an earnest of good intention? Is he aware also that many manufacturers in my constituency wish me to ask him to ensure that early action is taken to prevent yet another sector of the textile industry from being hit? Many people in West Yorkshire believe that the Department of Trade is helping the problem not one whit in any areas of the textile industry.

The hon. Gentleman's rather general assertion is not borne out by my experience when I vistited Yorkshire a week ago and spoke to those in the industry. However, there is a possibility of action now that the problem has been brought to our attention. When the chemical industry was consulted before the agreement was reached, no mention was made of dyestuffs.