HC Deb 11 July 1957 vol 573 c525
19. Mr. Russell

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that our balance of trade with the Argentine Republic has been about four to one by value against the United Kingdom for several years despite the intentions expressed in the agreement of 1955, what steps he proposes to take to bring this trade more into balance.

The President of the Board of Trade (Sir David Eccles)

I share my hon. Friend's regret that the value of our exports to the Argentine Republic is not more closely related to the value of our imports. But, in assessing the balance, allowance must be made for considerable Argentine purchases of raw materials from other countries in the Commonwealth, and of oil produced and sold by British companies.

The Agreement of 1955, to which my hon. Friend refers, has been superseded by new arrangements which put Argentine payments and trade with us and most other countries in Europe on a non-discriminatory basis, and I hope that these arrangements will enable our exporters to increase their trade in this important market.

Mr. Russell

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the trade the Argentine does with the Commonwealth makes up for the lack of exports of ours which she takes? Is it not wrong that we should buy £6 million worth of wheat and £27 million of meat from the Argentine in the first five months of this year in view of this colossal unbalance of trade, bearing in mind that Australia probably would like to sell us both more wheat and more meat?

Sir D. Eccles

The Argentine purchases from the Commonwealth are very heavy. I shall let my hon. Friend know how nearly they make up the gap. I think we need the Argentine meat, and I would not be in favour of cutting it off.