HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1537-8
16. Mr. C. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on his recent talks with the Soviet Trade Delegation in London.

21. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the President of the Board of Trade what trade agreement has been made with the Soviet Trade Delegation in London.

Mr. Maudling

These talks were the first of a series of five annual reviews of the operation of the Soviet Five Year Trade Agreement of May, 1959. Since the Agreement, trade both ways has increased substantially, and the range of goods involved has widened.

The two delegations arranged for an increase in the total quotas for consumer goods, which will now amount to £4 million each way, and for the import of Soviet equipment up to a total value of £2.5 million against corresponding exports of United Kingdom goods. The detailed quotas within these totals are to be fixed in discussion with the Soviet Trade Delegation.

They also agreed upon arrangements for further discussions on trade including a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation.

Mr. Osborne

I thank my right hon. Friend especially for the item on consumer goods that the Soviet Union will buy from us. What group of raw materials or goods can the Soviet Union sell to this country to give them the sterling they require to buy the goods we want to sell to them, and so provide more employment here? Did the Russians press for any special group of goods that my right hon. Friend felt could not be included?

Mr. Maudling

They pressed very hard on oil, and we said, "No." The fact is that in recent years the value of Soviet exports to the United Kingdom has been twice as much as the value of the stuff they have bought from us, so I think that they are in a position to buy a lot more from this country. According to the Russian figures, our exports to Russia in the early months of the year have been up about 39 per cent. over our sales there a year ago. If so, I think that this trade is expanding very well.

Mr. Chetwynd

Did they raise the question of having to divert orders from this country to Continental countries because of the Government's refusal to change their mind about oil imports?

Mr. Maudling

I do not recall that, but the threat to divert orders from one country to another is part of the normal mechanism of trade agreements throughout the world.