HC Deb 18 November 1974 vol 881 cc887-8
23. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he is taking designed to increase trade with South Africa.

Mr. Shore

The standard range of the British Overseas Trade Board's services is available for South Africa as for other major markets. Exports in the first nine months of 1974 show a 37 per cent. increase in value over the comparable period in 1973. Imports increased by 29 per cent. over the same period.

Mr. Wall

Does the Minister welcome this increase? If so, is it not hypocritical on the one side to be encouraging trade with South Africa and on the other side to cut off arms for the joint maritime defence of our sea communications?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Member has completely confused the two issues. As he knows, the Government's view is that we must scrupulously and rigorously subscribe to and enforce our international obligations in terms of arms trade with South Africa.

Mr. Hooley

The policy of encouraging trade with South Africa is unacceptable to Labour Members for many reasons. Is my right hon. Friend aware that by deliberately encouraging this trade we may imperil some of our far more valuable and important trading interests in the rest of Africa?

Mr. Shore

I accept my hon. Friend's point about the importance of the whole African market. Exports to black Africa are growing in importance. This is one of the many consequences which has flowed from the great increase in the price of oil, which has made Nigeria in particular a most attractive market. On my hon. Friend's other point, we have to consider the question of our trading interests. It is a difficult question but we have to consider it in the context of the trading policies of other countries in relation to South Africa.