HC Deb 18 November 1974 vol 881 cc878-80
11. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the annual expenditure of his Department directly related to the promotion of exports; and how many staff in his Department are directly involved in this aspect of the Department's work.

Mr. Deakins

The Department of Trade expects to spend £11.1 million directly in support of export promotion during 1974–75. Some 1,200 staff are involved in providing a wide range of services and promotional support for exporters.

Mr. Hooley

While welcoming that answer, may I ask whether my hon. Friend is aware that £11 million in relation to a total export value of £12,000 million is not a very large sum? Is he also aware that, although a good deal of effort is being made by his Department in the traditional Western European and North American markets, I am not altogether satisfied that sufficient effort is being made in East European markets, the new oil States and certain other markets which could in future be even more lucrative?

Mr. Deakins

On the first point, the support given by the Department is wide-ranging. It is limited in the main by industry's willingness and ability to take advantage of particular schemes. To increase the level of financial support would not, therefore, necessarily increase exports. But my Department is always ready to consider new ideas for export promotional activities. On the second part of my hon. Friend's question, we are definitely switching the emphasis to these newer markets, particularly in the oil-producing States, which could well become our major markets in a few years' time.

Mr. Fry

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what instructions he gives to his Department about the current Australian import controls, which are causing a considerable cutback in orders in this country? At least one firm in my constituency is on a four-day week as a result of this.

Mr. Deakins

We are naturally very concerned about import controls imposed by any country anywhere, particularly at a time when world trade looks as if it will slow down almost to recession pace. We have made representations and are still awaiting the outcome.