Hon. W. D. EULER (Minister of Trade and Commerce):
Mr. Speaker, the hon.
member was kind enough to send me notice of the questions which he has just submitted.
It is rumoured in the press that Cuba has applied or is about to apply the maximum tariff to Canadian exports to that country. On March 10, two days ago, we received a cable from the Canadian trade commissioner at Havana, as follows:
Cuban government decree 3rd March published 10th March imposes maximum tariff Canadian goods shipped after latter date.
I may say that the maximum tariff of Cuba is double the minimum tariff which Canada has enjoyed for some time past. Last year Cuba passed a law which gave the president power to grant the minimum tariff where purchases from Cuba were at least fifty per cent of the sales made to Cuba. Further, if the purchases by Canada, for example, from Cuba were only between twenty-five per cent and forty-nine per cent of their purchases from us, a surtax of another twenty-five per cent would be added to the minimum tariff. If the purchases by Canada from Cuba are less than twenty-five per cent of the purchases by Cuba from Canada, then we were supposed to go under the maximum tariff. Apparently that is what has been done. We have enjoyed the privilege of the minimum tariff for some years.
I might add also, in reply to my hon. friend, that trade statistics as between the two countries are very greatly at variance, and if we accept the Cuban trade statistics we certainly fall below the twenty-five per cent limit. That discrepancy arises to some extent at least from the fact that a good many Canadian purchases from Cuba are made through agents or merchants in the United States. This applies more particularly
to pineapples and tomatoes. However, we have instructed our trade commissioner to make representations to the Cuban authorities in an effort to establish that our purchases from Cuba are a great deal larger than they are represented to be.
With regard to the item of codfish, we have not been able to ascertain whether or not that item is included and whether or not in future it will come under the maximum tariff. Among other rights the president has been given authority to exempt certain articles of which they stand in greater need than of other importations. That was the case in the past, but the privilege of exporting codfish under that tariff may expire as from April 2 of this year. We are trying to ascertain now-we have not yet been able to get the information -whether a similar exemption is to be made in regard to codfish. I may add in conclusion that the government are watching the matter; we shall certainly exert every effort to reestablish the minimum tariff as far as Canadian exports to Cuba are concerned.
Subtopic: CUBAN TARIFF