HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1179-80
9. Sir R. Russell

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further steps he is taking to encourage more trade between Great Britain and other members of the Commonwealth preference area.

Mr. Mason

We are doing all we can to encourage exports to Commonwealth preference area markets, and most imports from this area are free of tariffs and other restrictions. We have already agreed to assist participation in 34 trade fairs and nine stores promotions in the Commonwealth preference area this year, and 45 B.N.E.C.-supported missions have been approved or are projected.

Sir R. Russell

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that Answer. Would he agree that our trade with members of the Commonwealth preference area has not increased in recent years as much as it has increased with other parts of the world? Will he do everything possible to increase our trade with the Commonwealth preference area?

Mr. Mason

Yes, Sir. It is true that the trend has been for our percentage of total trade with the Commonwealth Preference Area to fall. This is partially understandable since there has been a drift away from the sterling area towards the more industrialised countries, particularly in America and Europe, which can take our sophisticated goods.

Mr. Henig

Has my right hon. Friend caused any recent study to be made of the relationship between the degree of preference given to our goods by various Commonwealth countries and the trends in our exports to those countries; and what conclusions have been reached?

Mr. Mason

As there has not been such a study, I cannot give my hon. Friend any conclusions.