HC Deb 16 December 1943 vol 395 cc1695-6
72. Mr. Higgs

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what preparation his Department is making to re-establish overseas trade?

Mr. Harcourt Johnstone (Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade)

It is impossible within the limits of a Parliamentary answer to give all the details of my Department's activities. I would, however, refer my hon. Friend to the Debate in this House on 27th July last, and particularly to my statement that the Department is engaged in the production of reports of two kinds—(1) geographical, upon individual markets, and (2) industrial, to indicate to particular export industries the conditions they are likely to find in all the more important markets. These reports are being continuously revised, so that the final product may be as up-to-date as possible. At the same time discussions are taking place with a large number of industries in order that views may be exchanged about their particular export trade problems, and to ensure that the services of the Department are on lines that will afford the maximum assistance to exporters. A number of the Department's overseas officers have already been brought home for consultation, and this practice is being continued and developed. Moreover, a senior officer of the Department has recently been in the Middle East conferring with the Department's officers in that area and it is intended that similar conferences shall take place in other parts of the world.

Mr. Higgs

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Debate that he refers to took place five months ago? Can he give some further information on what the Department has been doing with regard to approaching business organisations in order that he can arrange for the future development of overseas trade after the war?

Mr. Johnstone

I have included that in my answer pretty fully. Discussions have taken place with 90 separate industries.