HC Deb 25 November 1958 vol 596 c211
36. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the current level of trade between the United Kingdom and China is higher now than it was twelve months and two years ago, respectively; and what further action he will take to expand it.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The United Kingdom's total exports and re-exports to China during the first ten months of this year amounted to £18.9 million; this was 81 per cent. higher than in the same period in 1957 and 116 per cent. higher than in the first ten months of 1956. In the same period this year imports from China totalled £15.2 million, representing increases of 23 per cent. and 36 per cent. over imports in the corresponding periods in 1957 and 1956, respectively. The normal facilities provided by the Board of Trade are, and will continue to be, available for businessmen interested to develop trade with this market.

Mr. Swingler

While that increase in trade between Britain and China is welcome, is the hon. Member aware that it still touches only the fringe of the potential development of trade between Britain and China, a trade which could be very valuable for employment in this country? In view of that fact and in view of the vast and ambitious plans for industrialisation in China which have been announced, cannot the hon. Gentleman take some further positive initiative to try to expand this trade?

Mr. Rodgers

We should all like to see an expansion of this two-way trade, but I remind the hon. Gentleman of some of the steps which we have already taken. We encourage and support the Sino-British Trade Council; we publish monthly economic reports on China and details of specific trade opportunities; we make available E.C.G.D. cover and assist individual firms through the Commercial Secretary at Peking; and we provide lists of Chinese import and export organisations. We are doing our best to foster and stimulate this trade.