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British introduce minimum import prices for eggs



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FOR PRESS

(Statement by the Rt. Hon. J. McEwen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry).

BRITISH INTRODUCE MINIM IMPORT PRICES FOR EGGS

The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. J. McEwen,

said today that the British Government had decided to introduce

a system of Minimum Import Prices together with import levies to apply to shell eggs and egg y g^, gg products from the 31st March, 1970, The British had explained that their purpose in introducing this measure was to safeguard the British market

against the risk of disruption by excessively low priced imports.

Mr. McEwen said that Australia was disappointed that Britain had found it necessary to place any restriction on

imports of eggs and egg products. Imports comprised only

about 4% of the total British egg market and it was difficult to see how they could seriously disrupt that market.

He said that Australia had registered its concern

about the possible damage to its trade from the application

of the proposed arrangement. In particular Australia was

concerned that the application of a general levy could have

serious adverse effects on our exports even though Australia was observing the Minmum Import Prices,

These views had been put strongly to the British

in the course of protracted negotiations in which representatives of the Australian Egg Board were closely involved.

Following these representations the British agreed

to exempt Australian egg products from, general imports levies, provided Australia undertook to ensure, so far as practicable, that these products were offered in the British market at price

levels consistent with the Minimum Import Prices established by the British under the scheme.

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Mr. McEwen said that throughout the negotiations the

British maintained that prices in their market would hold above the proposed minimum levels. If this proved to be so then Australian egg producers would derive obvious advantages

in the form of increased export returns. However, Australia had

also been concerned to ensure that its egg products should not

be excluded from the market if, contrary to the views of the

British authorities, domestic prices fell.

Mr. McEwen said that on this latter point, he had

written to the British Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and

Food, Mr. Cledwyn Hughes. Mr. Hughes had provided his personal assurance that if the scheme were to operate to Australia's

disadvantage then he was prepared to arrange urgent

consultations to consider what action could be taken to safeguard

our interest in the trade.

CANBERRA., 5th March, 1970 7/70T