HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1191-2
36. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about his recent official visit to Thailand.

Mr. Mason

In Thailand, there is good will towards Britain and British products, and the market presents many opportunities. Although the present balance of trade is in our favour, I would like to see many more businessmen visiting Thailand, and I hope my visit will do something to encourage the flow of business missions and increased trade in both directions.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

While I congratulate the President of the Board of Trade on his visit, did he not find that the opportunities would be greater still if British industry and Thai industry got together in partnership? Does not that involve permission to export a certain amount of capital investment to set up joint trading organisations to this end?

Mr. Mason

I certainly came across the request for joint ventures, and I encouraged it. I have addressed the B.N.E.C. Asian Committee since I returned on the joint ventures I had in mind. There is no reason why, with British managerial experience, technical equipment and know-how allied with the raw materials and labour in the country concerned, there could not be joint ventures on that basis.

Sir K. Joseph

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the very tough standards, the criterion standards, governing the export of capital for investment are not interfering in any way with business opportunities in Thailand?

Mr. Mason

It is not only in Thailand that concern is expressed, wherever I go, people would like to see more British investment, in many instances to offset Japanese investment that is going in to South-East Asian countries. We are not stopping overseas investment; we are regulating it. In 1966, 1967 and 1968 overseas direct investment was at least £928 million, an increase of at least 15 per cent. over the previous three years.