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Footwear Industry

Volume 986: debated on Monday 16 June 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the present import and export arrangements in relation to the boot and shoe industry.

There is a range of restraint arrangements on imports of footwear, or types of footwear, from low-cost sources. These arrangements are monitored and enforced, and we remain ready to consider further arrangements should circumstances justify them. I am not satisfied with the export opportunities in certain markets, and I am constantly seeking improvements both bilaterally and through the European Community.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what are the present arrangements, country by country, to control the imports of footwear, especially from State trading countries or from Brazil or Portugal; in what ways he has strengthened the controls over his period of office; and what further action he intends to take to protect the industry ;(2) what recent representations he has received from the British Footwear Manufacturers Federation regarding the current state of trade, especially in the East Midlands ; what replies he has sent ; and what action he is taking.

All these restrictions have been in operation for some years and are being maintained at levels which take account of the situation in the British footwear industry.There is a countervailing duty on United Kingdom imports of certain men's leather fashion footwear from Brazil which is under review by the European Community. The result of that review will depend on the level of subsidies currently available to the Brazilian footwear manufacturers.Recent representations by the BFMF have related to imports of leather footwear from Brazil, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The current levels of imports of leather footwear from Brazil—just under 3 per cent. of the United Kingdom market—do not justify emergency safeguard action under the GATT rules at the present time. However, during his recent visit to Brazil my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade left the Brazilians in no doubt about the serious concern felt by Her Majesty's Government about the difficult problems which would be caused by further increases in their imports.I am currently seeking arrangements for the continuation of the voluntary export restraints undertaken by Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he intends to take to prevent imports of footwear from Italy marked "made in Italy", when they have been manufactured in a third country other than Italy.

I have no evidence at present of this practice. If the hon. Member will let me have details of specific cases, I shall ensure that they are fully investigated. False origin marking is an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act 1978.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of exports of United Kingdom footwear products in the first quarter of the current year ; and what was the value of imports from all sources for the same period into the United Kingdom.