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1993 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Tokyo

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Tokyo, held on Wednesday 7th July 1993.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what can you us about the movement we hear reported from the so-called Quad talks, does this mean that GATT is on its way?

PRIME MINISTER:

It looks as though it may, yes, it looks as though the talks have ended satisfactorily, I do not have all the details yet so I will spare you the details I do have, but it does look as though it is probable we will now have a market access agreement. That is important not just in itself but because it means we can then move forward to the multilateral talks back in Geneva and towards a GATT settlement, that is very important. It sounds technical but what it means is more trade, open market and more jobs, so it is very important.

QUESTION:

In short, why does it matter?

PRIME MINISTER:

It matters precisely for the fact that it will actually create jobs. If one can free up world trade there will be more world trade, the more world trade there is the more goods need to be produced, the more goods are produced the more people are working producing them, so in a single word it means jobs.

QUESTION:

Does it mean a transfer of jobs away from Western and developed economies?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I do not think so, that point is sometimes put, doesn't it mean a transfer of jobs? But a general growth of trade, which is what a satisfactory agreement on GATT will mean, removing trade barriers and removing tariffs, that will help people in every country around the world and I think it will mean more jobs around the world. The estimates are that it will increase world trade very substantially, it removes barriers to many British exports when it is concluded, textiles for example, Scotch whisky perhaps, a whole range of areas that are of very great importance to us. Undilutedly good news when the round is completed, today it looks as though we have made a further step forward.

QUESTION:

How much extra bullying would you now need to do to turn a Quad agreement into a proper GATT agreement and are you worried that the French Prime Minister is not here?

PRIME MINISTER:

The French President is here. There is a lot of badgering being done over the last couple of years, no-one is in any doubt at all about the importance that the British have given to this particular settlement, it has gone on for some time. I wish we had settled the whole matter last year or the year before, but we have not. We have now made a great deal of progress. A substantial amount of a final agreement is already in place, there is still quite a lot to be done hut one ought not to overlook the amount that is now already in the bag and is agreed. We will just have to push and push and push, however unpopular it makes us, to try and get a final settlement later on this year.

QUESTION:

This will nevertheless have to go through the European Council, are you confident that all twelve member states of the Community will be on side on this and that means specifically the French?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is actually agreed by qualified majority vote, it does not need unanimity in the European Community, it is a matter that is dealt with by qualified majority vote.

QUESTION:

You are confident the Community will agree it?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it would be folly if the Community were not to agree to go forward.

QUESTION:

Do you think we will get agreement by the end of the year?

PRIME MINISTER:

I very much hope so, the prize is very great. If there is one thing around the world that people are concerned about it is to see an increase in the growth of world trade, an increase in confidence and the creation of jobs. There are 23 million people in the G7 countries who are without work, there are 17 million people, rising, in the European Community without work. Now here is the biggest single policy change that can help to create new jobs, everyone should snatch at that.

QUESTION:

What are you likely to say in the world economy debate this afternoon?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we have to remove many of the barriers to growth, there are a whole range of them, one of them of course is the trade barriers that we have been talking about that are subject to negotiation in the GATT round, others are the degree of deregulation that exists, there are a whole series of supply side changes that are necessary, a greater concentration on skills and education, a whole raft of things that I will set out this afternoon. But in essence we have to address long term problems that have suddenly become clear across the world as a result of the recession, if we address those problems now we will set the right basics in place for growth throughout the '90s and greater prosperity in the '90s. So it is removing those barriers to growth that I regard as the most important thing.

QUESTION:

It is deregulation really?

PRIME MINISTER:

Deregulation is a part of it, it is by no means the sum total of what needs to be done, but deregulation is certainly an important part of it.

QUESTION:

You have a bilateral today with President Clinton, after the disagreements on Bosnia and the American decision on nuclear testing, how much patching up have you got to do?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no need for patching up. President Clinton and I speak regularly on the phone, we had a very lengthy conversation about this particular summit and related matters on Saturday, we will be meeting in the margins of this particular summit to discuss a range of things. There is no patching up job to do, there is a whole raft of areas where we are in complete agreement and I suspect the principal agenda for this summit is one of those areas where we are in total agreement.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] changing the balance of power in the world, how hard are you having to fight to maintain Britain's position at the table at G7 and at the UN?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not having to fight at all hard, Britain's place at the G7 and at the United Nations is entirely secure, the only time it is ever questioned is when people like you ask me questions like that, otherwise it is not in any doubt whatsoever.

QUESTION:

Why is the New Statesman settlement so low for you personally?

PRIME MINISTER:

The important thing in the New Statesman settlement, and all the other elements of that settlement, was that people acknowledged that the libel was untrue, that has been acknowledged, everyone concerned has now paid damages. The size of the damages was never a relevant factor, the confirmation that the stories were untrue and unfounded was the relevant factor, that has now been obtained from everybody concerned with the case, those who spread the libel, those who printed the individual publications, all of them have now indicated that it is unfounded and untrue, I am satisfied with that, it is now no longer an issue I need concern myself with, it is dead and gone.

QUESTION:

But the New Statesman is claiming a moral victory and there is a suggestion that you have accepted these low damages in order to avoid appearing in the witness box?

PRIME MINISTER:

it is a curious moral victory when they admit it cost them a quarter of a million pounds in total, that is a very curious moral victory. They have admitted what they said was unfounded, they are not in a position to repeat, they cannot repeat it, it has cost them a quarter of a million pounds, if that is a moral victory it is not the sort of moral victory they would like every week.