Mr. W. Kenneth Robinson (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue):
Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Hargrave) does make some very telling points. It is accurate to state that imports of beef into Canada have increased greatly when measured on a year over year basis. The information I have indicates that imports from all sources during the first four months of this year were 45.2 million pounds compared with 36.7 million pounds during the same months last year.
The Government shares the Canadian Cattlemen's concern about the rapid increase of subsidized beef imports into Canada from the European community. Since the beginning of the year, officials of the Department of External Affairs, in consultation with those from other Departments, have been monitoring and evaluating the situation closely in view of the potential destabilizing effect such imports could have on Canadian markets and trade patterns.
Strong representations have been made to the European Economic Community, urging it to cease the undercutting of the Canadian market. Canadian representatives to the GATT
have also raised the issue. Although Canada has not received a formal response, I am informed that on May 12, 1984, the European Community reduced its export refund by 6.6 per cent. This is welcome, but the European Economic Community needs to do more. Canadian officials shall be raising this issue again with the European Economic Community next week on June 7 and June 8 in the regular review of Canada-European Economic Community problems.
Moreover, I believe that the Canadian Cattlemen's Association is preparing a submission requesting the application of countervailing duties on imports of Irish beef products. This submission will provide the Government the opportunity to evaluate if the industry is suffering injury due to these imports. Should this prove to be the case, appropriate action, consistent with Canadian law and our GATT obligations, will be taken.
Subtopic: TRADE-BEEF IMPORTS FROM COMMON MARKET COUNTRIES. (B) GOVERNMENT POLICY