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Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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asked the Prime Minister what is the general policy of her Administration towards restriction on imports, especially for products such as textiles or footwear where substantial competition is being experienced from State trading countries or from developing nations with lower manpower unit costs than those of the United Kingdom; and whether she will make a statement.

Details of the arrangements relating to footwear are being given today to my hon. Friend by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade. On textiles and clothing, by far the major part of imports from low-cost and State trading countries is covered by quota or agreed restraint arrangements. Existing arrangements negotiated or in some cases unilaterally imposed by the European Community, cover some 78 per cent. of these imports and there is agreed provision for additional quotas to be imposed on a further 15 per cent if necessary. Since the present Government came to office three new restraint arrangements have been concluded through the Community and 24 new quotas introduced. I am not satisfied at the time it has sometimes taken to introduce new quotas, and we have made clear to the Commission the need to speed up the procedure.