HC Deb 05 July 1971 vol 820 cc897-8
1. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much is being spent during this year by his Department to aid British firms wishing to exhibit at trade fairs abroad; and how much of this goes to firms exhibiting in West and East European countries, respectively.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)

Expenditure on aid to firms participating in trade fairs abroad is estimated at £4.8 million in 1971–72. Of this, some £2.3 million is expected to be spent on events in West European countries and £700,000 in East European countries.

Mrs. Short

I am grateful for that information but surprised to hear how little is being spent on stimulating trade with Eastern Europe, since the population of Eastern Europe is about 350 million—far more than the population of the Common Market—and our export trade is just under £300 million a year. Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it would be worth while to put more effort into this, as it is an expanding market and will be for many years to come?

Mr. Grant

I very much hope the hon. Lady is right, and that it will be an expanding market, but expenditure is to some extent conditioned by the number and frequency of trade fairs, and in this respect the figures are approximate to those in previous years.

Mr. Blaker

Does not our balance of trade with the Soviet Union remain heavily adverse, in spite of Soviet protestations to do better, and will my hon. Friend press the Soviet Union on this matter?

Mr. Grant

My hon. Friend is quite right in what he says. I assure him that we have made known to the Soviet Union on more than one occasion the points he has in mind.

Forward to