§ Mr. Hazell
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of the Ministerial Council of the European Free Trade Association in Geneva.
§ Mr. Crosland
The E.F.T.A. Council and the Joint Council of Finland and E.F.T.A. met in Geneva at Ministerial level on 8th and 9th May. The outcome of the meeting is recorded in the following communiqueThe E.F.T.A. Council and the Joint Council of Finland and E.F.T.A. met at ministerial level in Geneva at the new headquarters of the Association on 8th and 9th May, 1969. Mr. P. Nyboe Andersen, Danish Minister for Economic and European Integration Affairs, was in the chair. The discussions covered all 197W aspects of the Association's activities, as well as matters of common interest in the external economic relations of the E.F.T.A. countries.In the E.F.T.A. Council, with the Finnish Foreign Minister participating in a personal capacity, Ministers reviewed developments in European integration since their last meeting. They reaffirmed the determination of their Governments, as expressed at Vienna, to overcome the present economic division of Europe, and their willingness to consider in a positive spirit all constructive proposals which might be put forward to this end, provided that these were in conformity with their international obligations. They were agreed that they should continue to consult together closely.E.F.T.A. Ministers welcomed the convening by the E.E.C. of a conference for the purpose of reaching a patent agreement covering Europe and said that their Governments would participate. Such an agreement would make an important practical contribution to European economic integration. Ministers also instructed the Council at official level to study other fields of possible co-operation with the Communities.The Ministers reviewed the present state of world trade, the valuable work going on within G.A.T.T. and the prospects for further trade liberalisation. They welcomed the commitment of the United States Administration to liberal trade policies. The Ministers further reaffirmed the importance of full implementation of the results achieved in the Kennedy Round and of avoiding any movement towards protectionism, which might threaten the continued expansion of world trade. They recognised the importance of a sound monetary situation for the satisfactory development of trade. They declared themselves ready to play their full part in discussions and negotiations in the appropriate international organisations, in order to carry further the work of trade liberalisation. They considered that high priority should be given to the trade problems of developing countries.On behalf of the four Nordic Governments of E.F.T.A., the Swedish Minister of Commerce gave the Councils a report on the present discussions aimed at an intensified Nordic economic co-operation, contributing to the co-operation within the Association and to the further strengthening of the economic ties among European countries.Ministers noted with satisfaction progress made so far in the negotiations between E.F.T.A. and the Government of Iceland on the latter's application for membership in the Association. They were determined to press ahead with these negotiations.On the basis of a report of the Secretary-General, Ministers reviewed progress under the work programme initiated in May, 1968 with the aim of developing still further the opportunities opened up by E.F.T.A.Ministers had before them a report on the general review of the agricultural provisions of the E.F.T.A. Convention undertaken in the official Councls. Minsters instructed the Council to examine the specific steps that might be taken with the aim of improving trading conditions for agricultural products. 198W The examination would include dumped and subsidised imports, Government support, different price levels for agricultural raw materials, and removal of items from Annex D (the list of agricultural products not subject to E.F.T.A. tariff treatment). A report is to be submitted to Ministers for their next meeting. Some Ministers expressed concern about the problems created for their countries by the decision of the United Kingdom Government to restrict imports of butter into the United Kingdom market.Ministers expressed the hope that, as a result of talks to be held later this month, the Member Governments concerned would be able shortly to report agreement on the regime for imports into the United Kingdom of quick-frozen fish fillets from the Scandinavian countries.The next meeting of the Councils at ministerial level will be held in Geneva on 6th and 7th November, 1969