HC Deb 05 May 1975 vol 891 cc992-3
4. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many trade missions visited the Middle East in 1974;and how many are planned for 1975.

Mr. Shore

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State informed my hon. Friend on 23rd January—[Vol. 884, c. 483]—the British Overseas Trade Board supported 16 outward missions to the Middle East in 1974, in which 221 British firms took part. In 1975, 325 firms are expected to participate in 28 missions to the Middle East.

Mr. Hooley

That is a very fair and encouraging reply, but does my right hon. Friend agree that in view of the enormous revenues which have accrued to the oil countries and, in particular, the fact that those revenues are spilling over to some extent to countries such as Syria, Egypt and Jordan, perhaps even greater effort should be made in this market?

Mr. Shore

I am never satisfied with our efforts in regard to exports, nor shall I be until we are once again back in surplus as a country. I simply make this point about the Middle East: exports to those markets as a whole increased by 63 per cent. last year, which was a respectable showing but not as good as the markets' opportunities warranted. However, I am glad to tell my hon. Friend that there has been a mounting momentum of British exports to the Middle East market. While I gave that overall figure for the whole of 1974, I believe that my hon. Friend and the House would like to know that in the last quarter of last year our exports to the Middle East markets were up by 92 per cent. compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year, and that in the first quarter of this year they were up by 110 per cent. over the first quarter of last year.