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Arab League (Trade Boycott)

Volume 24: debated on Monday 17 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if there has been any change in the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the issue of the Arab League boycott of trade with companies engaging in trade with Israel since the statement of policy of the previous Government in 1977.

We remain opposed to the Arab boycott and deplore its restrictions on our trade with Israel. We do not recognise the boycott administration. We do our best to advise United Kingdom firms of the boycott restrictions without seeking to interfere in firms" commercial judgment.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any legslative steps have been taken by the European Community countries to frustrate the Arab League boycott of companies engaged in trade with Israel; whether he has any information on the extent to which other major trading states, such as the United States of America have taken similar steps; and whether Her Majesty's Government have considered any legislative action.

To the best of our knowledge none of our Community partners has take any legislative steps specifically prohibiting firms from complying with the Arab boycott, though in France the law effectively prohibits signing of boycott clauses in contracts. In addition certain members of the Community have introduced legislation concerning racial or religious discrimination in economic relations. The United States of America has legislation prohibting firms from complying with boycott restrictions. We have no plans for legislation on this matter.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department commenced assisting with the practice of agreeing to authenticate negative certificates of origin stating that goods destined for the Arab world have no Israeli content, in pursuance of the Arab boycott; and in how many cases such assistance has been provided.

It has been customary for many years for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to authenticate the signatures appended to export documents by British chambers of commerce or by notaries public. This practice is not derived from the Arab boycott. In the case of negative certificates of origin, the certificate issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is accompanied by a note making clear that the authentication relates only to the validity of the signature of the chamber of commerce or notary public. It does not imply that the contents of the document are correct or that they have official approval.