HC Deb 14 August 1919 vol 119 cc1599-601
7. Colonel GRETTON

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the commercial economic arrangements in respect of British exports to Belgium and Belgian exports to the United Kingdom?


(Department of Oversea Trade) As the answer is a lengthy one, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer referred to:

All goods maybe freely exported from this country to Belgium with the exception of those appearing in Sections A and B of the List of Export Prohibited Goods; issued by the Export Licence Department of the Board of Trade. Goods included in Section A are prohibited to all destinations unless a licence is previously obtained; goods in Section B are prohibited to all destinations other than ports and destinations in British Possessions and Protectorates. Goods have been exported from this country to Belgium during the past seven months to the following values:

January 312,244
February 833,561
March 2,807,000
April 4,378,000
May 5,500,000
June 4,822,000
July 5,637,281

In December last, the British Treasury opened a temporary credit for the Government of Belgium to facilitate the task of that Government and of its nationals in placing orders for the produce and manufactures of the United Kingdom required for the restoration of Belgium pending the receipt of compensation from the Enemy Powers. This credit was placed to a special account at the Bank of England against the discount at 5 per cent. from time to time of Belgian Government three months' Treasury Bills, up to an aggregate face value of £9,000,000 sterling in the first instance, such bills to be renewable until the receipt of compensation from the Enemy Powers. Sanctions have been granted for purchases against this credit to the extent of £4,500,000. As the result of a recent visit to this country by Monsieur Jaspar, the Belgian Minister des Affaires Economiques, the Treasury are considering the extension of the benefits of the credit in aid of private enterprises in Belgium. It is understood that India and certain of the Dominions are about to open credits in aid of Belgian reconstruction.

A special section of the Department of Oversea Trade has been in existence for some time for the purpose of dealing with Belgian trade and reconstruction. This section acts on behalf of the British Government, inter alia, for the administration of the above-named credit, and for facilitating commercial enterprise between the two countries. In April last, the Right Hon. Herbert Samuel was appointed His Majesty's Special Commissioner in Belgium to give better effect to the efforts of this country undertake non behalf of the reconstruction of Belgium. As a result of Mr. Samuel's labours, the commercial relations between the two countries have been placed on a thoroughly satisfactory basis, and various misunderstandings, which appeared to have arisen, have now been cleared up, and there is every reason to suppose that this country will be enabled to take a prominent part in helping towards the restoration of Belgian industries.

As regards imports from Belgium, sympathetic treatment is being given in view of the circumstances of that country. A system of rationing of Belgian imports has been instituted which gives favourable terms, Mae year 1913 being taken as the basis from which calculations are made. The following figures will indicate the position with regard to the resumption of exports from Belgium to this country:

January 25,824
February 81,895
March 87,470
April 84,800
May 98,213
June 153,150
the total for the six months being £531,352.