HC Deb 05 May 1975 vol 891 cc1012-3
22. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make a further statement on his policy on the Arab trade boycott.

Mr. Deakins

As Her Majesty's Governments of both parties have stated from time to time, they are opposed to and deplore all trade boycotts other than those internationally supported and sanctioned by the United Nations. The Arab boycott of Israel is one element in the conflict between Israel and the Arab States. Her Majesty's Government support all positive measures aimed at the peaceful resolution of that conflict. In the meantime, British exporters may raise with my officials any boycott problems they face, when they will be given the benefit of their knowledge and experience. How exporters act in particular cases must, however, remain a matter for their commercial judgment.

Mr. Huckfield

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is it possible to make it even more clear to British firms that they do not have to succumb to pressure and tactics of this kind? Will my hon. Friend now seriously consider the possibility of setting up some kind of information office to which British firms have to have recourse if they are approached by the Arab Boycott Office in this country or in other countries?

Mr. Deakins

I do not think that that would have the effect that my hon. Friend wishes. In the United States there is legislation more or less to this effect, but I do not think that the existence of legislation in the United States, or, for that matter, the existence of an information office in this country, would prevent American exporters or British exporters from complying with a boycott if it were in their commercial interests to do so. In the last resort we must have regard to the interests of the firms themselves and leave it to them to make their own decisions in the light of all the circumstances.

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