HC Deb 21 May 1957 vol 570 cc1021-2
29. Mr. Owen

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will allow British firms to import East German merchandise into this country in exchange for British woollen goods.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Derek Walker-Smith)

No, Sir. Woollen goods would not qualify for inclusion in barter deals unless the particular goods in question were shown, when the application was examined, to have a special need for additional export outlets.

Mr. Owen

Since this Question was put down, the problem envisaged has been resolved, but may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that there is at the moment considerable irritation that tends to frustrate the flow of trade between this country and East Germany? May I ask whether he will be willing to examine this problem in the interests of Britain's economy?

Mr. Walker-Smith

We are applying the principles of barter deals, in the way that was explained in a recent Answer by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. If the hon. Member is dealing with the matter of the initiation of trade agreements, the initiative for that is not with the Government, but with any representative national trade organisation.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister of State aware that some initiative has been shown? Can he say whether any progress whatever has been made in this matter?

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, Sir; I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any information as to progress in that field, 'because, as I have said, it is not a matter of Government responsibility.

Forward to