HC Deb 12 July 1976 vol 915 cc8-9
5. Mr. Shersby

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from other Governments advocating the reduction or elimination of tariff barriers during the present multilateral trade negotiations.

20. Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will urge the EEC to press for the reduction of tariff barriers during the multilateral trade negotiations.

Mr. Dell

I have not received any direct representations from other Governments about the removal of tariff barriers, but they have made their views known on this point in the course of work on the multilateral trade negotiations. The objective which we ourselves have been pressing of a significant reduction in existing tariff levels is widely shared by other Governments both within and outside the EEC.

Mr. Shersby

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the elimination of tariff barriers is an essential part of increasing world trade, and will he set a target date for their elimination by the end of the decade or at least by the end of the next round?

Mr. Dell

I do not think that in these negotiations it will be expected that tariff barriers will be eliminated completely. It is generally agreed that there should be a reduction, according to some formula, in the level of tariff protection. There are now other forms of inhibition in the flow of trade, and these will also be a serious element in these negotiations.

Mr. Marten

What is the Government's view on the Commission's proposals for the taxation of vegetable oils, in view of the very strong reaction against it by the United States?

Mr. Dell

That is primarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. But the hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that it is not only Europe that has certain protective devices in respect of agriculture. The United States has them, too. I hope that the hon. Member will appreciate the need for negotiations on these matters.