HC Deb 22 July 1970 vol 804 cc510-2
5. Mr. Wall

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on trade with South Africa.

16. Mr. Sheldon

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on British exports to South Africa.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Michael Noble)

The Government's policy is to encourage further expansion of our trade with South Africa.

Mr. Wall

I welcome that reply, but would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is wholly hypocritical to build up trade with another country and then refuse to supply arms to the co-signatory of a defence agreement?

Mr. Noble

I cannot go further than the statement which my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary made to the House on Monday.

Mr. Sheldon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the rate of growth of imports to this country from South Africa is greater than the rate of growth of our exports to that country? Why should we not press for a greater number of exports to be allowed into that country, not including arms—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]1—because of the growing imbalance?

Mr. Noble

If the hon. Gentleman has studied the figures, he will know that we have had a favourable trade balance with South Africa for a large number of years. Nothing that he says, or that I say, will diminish the importance of increasing our exports to South Africa.

30. Mr. David Steel

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the value of British trade in the nearest convenient year and 10 years previously with Africa north of the Zambesi and Africa south of the Zambesi, respectively.

Mr. Noble

As the answer contains several figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It shows that between the years 1959 and 1969, for both areas, imports roughly doubled in value whilst exports increased by about three-fifths.

Mr. Steel

Is it not a reasonable conjecture that over the next 10 years as the economies of the under-developed countries improve trade with countries north of the Zambesi could increase at a considerably faster rate than it has improved over the last 10 years provided that the Government do nothing to jeopardise our political links with them?

Mr. Noble

I am not certain that this can be inferred from what has happened in the past. I hope that our exports to those countries will greatly increase, but there is a great deal of evidence that exports increase fastest to the more developed countries.

Mr. Blaker

Will my right hon. Friend consider publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures showing the development of French trade with countries north of the Zambesi, particularly since the time that France has been selling arms to South Africa?

Mr. Noble

I am sure that if my hon. Friend puts down that Question on the Order Paper, we shall be able to supply him with the information.

Following is the information:

£ million
1959 1969
Imports Exports Imports Exports
North of the Zambesi 309 262 642 416
South of the Zambesi† 165 201 347 319
* Excluding the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar) and other islands.
† South Africa, South West Africa, Rhodesia (estimated for 1959), Lesotho (Basutoland), Botswana (Bechuanaland), Mozambique and Angola.