HC Deb 12 May 1953 vol 515 cc1029-30
3. Mr. Fort

asked the President of the Board of Trade what specific concessions the Argentine Government have made in the recently-concluded trade agreement which compensate for the omission of British textile exports from the agreement.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The trade agreement provides for substantial supplies of Argentine meat and for the licensing of various United Kingdom exports, including cotton and linen sewing thread and linen yarn. No quotas for other textiles are included, but for the last few years the Argentine Government have issued virtually no licences for the import of such textiles. The Argentine Government were not prepared to enter into any new agreements involving the import of other textiles, and we should have lost more than we gained by refusing to conclude an agreement on that account.

Mr. Fort

Is my right hon. Friend, therefore, continuing the policy which was the policy of the previous Government with regard to this agreement with Argentine?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is true to say that there were no quotas for textiles in the agreement for the 12 months from April, 1951, to March, 1952, but the fact is that, quotas or no quotas, the Argentine Government have not been issuing licences for the import of these goods.

Mr. Edelman

Is it not a fact that British manufacturers, including those making engineering products as distinct from exporters of British raw materials, are not getting a fair showing under the Argentine trade agreement compared with the benefits enjoyed by the United States manufacturers, who have insisted on getting a fair share of manufactured goods included in their agreement, and is it not time for us to revise ours?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that the circumstances are somewhat different, but in any case this Question refers specifically to the export of textiles. If the hon. Gentleman wants to ask another Question about another export perhaps he would put it down.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Is it not a fact that the export of British textiles to the Argentine is lower today than at any time during the last six years?

Mr. Thorneycroft

As I said, virtually no licences for the import of textiles have been granted during the period since 1951.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my right hon. Friend saying that no licences have been granted to any exporters of textiles to the Argentine, or does that apply only to United Kingdom exporters?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Apart from those under an Italian agreement, about which my hon. Friend knows, I understand that the Argentine have issued virtually no licences for the import of textiles from any country.