HC Deb 30 April 1969 vol 782 cc1412-3
6. Sir G. Sinclair

asked the President of the Board of Trade why Great Britain's share of Indian imports dropped from 19 per cent. in 1960–61 to 8 per cent. in 1967–68 while the European Economic Community increased its exports to India; and, whether, in view of the fact that about half the total overseas investment in India is British, he will institute an inquiry into this country's diminishing share of India's imports.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody)

Contributory causes of this decline include the increase in other countries' aid and India's need for food and other goods that we cannot supply. Factors such as these are outside our control, but we are examining what scope there may be for action to improve the situation.

Sir G. Sinclair

Is not the Minister aware that during the fiscal year 1968–69 our share of Indian imports fell to 6 per cent.? What practical steps is the hon. Lady taking to ensure that we regain a better share of this market? Is she satisfied that in our High Commission there has sufficient business and industrial experience to take advantage of this expanding market?

Mrs. Dunwoody

In reply to the latter part of that question, my experience in dealing with particularly our commercial sections abroad is that many of the posts have a high degree of efficiency and a workmanlike approach to the problems of commerce. What they are doing is of immense importance and we should not underestimate their abilities.

We are worried about the decline in trade with India. We have said that we are carrying out studies in connection with the Indian Government, but business men also have a great deal to do with this.