HC Deb 15 June 1950 vol 476 cc526-8
16. Mr. Russell

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an estimate of the value of business lost by British firms in Turkey during the past six months owing to German firms quoting lower prices, earlier delivery dates and easier terms of credit.

Mr. H. Wilson

I have no information on which to base any such estimate. I should, however, like to emphasise that it is Turkey's shortage of sterling, and not German competition, which has been a major factor in the decline of United Kingdom exports to Turkey.

Mr. Russell

Is the Minister not aware that there has been this competition despite the shortage of sterling, and does not it show that it is really much more sound to rely on Empire markets, where we have protection, rather than on foreign markets?

Mr. Wilson

I agree that there has been this competition, but I am quite convinced that we could have stood up to it successfully had Turkey not had to restrict imports from this country owing to the shortage of sterling. With regard to the second part of the question, obviously we want to rely on trade both within the Commonwealth and with a wide range of countries outside it.

Sir Jocelyn Lucas

Could we not buy more Turkish tobacco?

Mr. Wilson

I should want notice of that question, although I think the answer is that we have bought all that the consumers in this country seem likely to consume.

17. Mr. John Grimston

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to meet the competition from Western Germany in semi-fabricated non-ferrous metals, sales of which are now at the rate of 10 times what they were a year ago and at prices below the cost of production in Germany.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am aware that, as a result of Germany's post-war return to industrial production, competition from German exports is now being encountered in a number of fields, including that of semi-fabricated non-ferrous metals. It is, however, misleading to compare present statistics with those for a year ago, since German exports of these products a year ago were in most cases either nil or negligible. If the hon. Member will furnish evidence in support of his statement that the exports are being offered at prices below the cost of production, I am prepared to examine the matter further.

Mr. Grimston

May I ask the Minister two things? First, will he not examine the figures, which show a month by month increase of something like 10 per cent. in the export from Germany of these particular articles—therefore, the information is available to him—and, second, will he not discuss with the German people whether they are not aware that the prices at which these goods are sold are well below world level?

Mr. Wilson

As I have already made clear, a 10 per cent. increase on a basis that is very small is not quite so serious as the hon. Gentleman suggests. With regard to his second point, I have always made it clear in this House that if there is any evidence of German goods being sold by dumping methods, below the cost of production, I shall always be glad to look into it with the German authorities.