HC Deb 03 June 1954 vol 528 cc1438-9
24. Mr. Parkin

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on talks at which his Department was represented, held recently in Geneva under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Europe. on the subject of East-West trade.

Mr. Amory

The recent talks at Geneva about East-West trade were between officials, who exchanged views on future trade possibilities. They also discussed in a preliminary way general problems, including methods of payment, affecting East-West trade in non-strategic items, as well as questions of commercial practice relating to arbitration, standardised terms of contract, inspection, servicing and the like. The United Kingdom representatives took the opportunity to discuss trade questions with the representatives of Eastern European countries. The scope for such discussions was naturally limited, however, since trade negotiations were already taking place in London with Poland and Hungary, and were about to start in Prague with Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Parkin

Having regard to the guarded enthusiasm of the Minister's reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that some countries seem to have got more out of this conference than we have?

Mr. Amory

I do not think there is any very guarded enthusiasm. No doubt the hon. Member will remember that the purposes, functions and scope of the talks were of a very general nature. The specific following-up would normally take place otherwise than at the E.C.E. conference.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Would the Minister ensure that traders in this country are not subjected to restrictions which are not applied and enforced on our colleagues on the Continent?

Mr. Amory

If my hon. Friend is referring to our colleagues in the consultative group, I should be very glad to know of any case in which it is alleged that they are not carrying out the agreement that has been arrived at.

Mr. Bing

Is not the Minister aware, for example, that vessels are now being built at Kiel, Germany, for Eastern European countries, while their building here is not permitted?

Mr. Amory

I am not aware of any case in which our colleagues on the consultative group are not carrying out strictly the agreements that have been arrived at.