HC Deb 05 June 1972 vol 838 cc23-4
28. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the value of trade between the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in the periods March, 1970, to March, 1971, and March, 1971, to March, 1972, respectively.

Mr. Noble

Information on trade by country is published in the Annual Statement of Trade and the monthly Overseas Trade Statistics. In the years ended March, 1971, and March, 1972, imports cif were £216 million and £200 million; exports fob were £93 million and £92 million.

Mr. Dalyell

What was the effect on trade of the Foreign Office rumpus over the Soviet diplomats?

Mr. Noble

It is difficult to make any accurate calculations of the effect. It is true that one or two quite major events are being mounted in Moscow this year with the approval of the Government. The particular factor which they claimed was doing damage—the high rate of interest on export guarantees—has been brought down to a competitive figure.

Mrs. Knight

Will my right hon. Friend accept my assurance that there is much pleasure and satisfaction in many parts of the House that no sanctions operate against the Soviet Union in spite of the fact that many of the internal policies followed by that nation are repugnant to many on this side of the House and an affront to human nature?

Mr. Noble

My task is to try to improve trade with as little interference as possible from party politics.

Mr. Benn

In view of the recent visit by President Nixon, which opens up serious possibilities of American trade with the Soviet Union, can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how things stand with the technical agreement we signed in 1968 with the Soviet Union and the extent to which the COCOM restriction, which was very restrictive with regard to our exports, is likely to be modified now that the Americans are anxious to develop trade?

Mr. Noble

The right hon. Gentleman may well be right that there will be some re-thinking of some of the COCOM rules. I cannot intelligently anticipate what may flow from President Nixon's visit to Moscow but we shall continue to treat it as a very serious market and hope to succeed there.