HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc909-10
1. Mr. Thorne

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress has been made in regard to increasing trade with the USSR since the Prime Minister's trade agreement with the USSR of February 1975.

The Secretary of State for Trade and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Shore)

As I stated in the answer which I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 15th December last, our exports to the Soviet Union in 1975 had almost doubled in value compared with 1974. A substantial volume of business is currently under negotiation and now that the tenth Five-Year Plan has been approved we hope for the early conclusion of some important contracts.

Mr. Thorne

I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, but what are the early prospects for extending exports of technological goods such as photo-elastics and aircraft equipment? What are the prospects for improving the export of textiles from Britain? Further, will trade be a subject for discussion with Mr. Gromyko next week?

Mr. Shore

Although some trade matters may be touched upon, if Mr. Gromyko so wishes, during his forthcoming visit, the normal channel for trade talks is either directly with Mr. Patolichev, who was here last December, or at the annual meetings with the Joint Commission, the next of which will be held in London in May, when Mr. Kirillin and his team come to London.

There has been, and is, a substantial export trade in textiles and textile machinery from Britain to the Soviet Union. There are a number of prospects for the aerospace industry generally. These matters are under discussion.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us begin the week as we intend to continue. When an hon. Member asks a supplementary question, let it be in me singular.

Mr. James Lamond

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has given a most encouraging answer? Does he appreciate that such an answer makes a much more positive contribution towards world peace than the belligerent speeches we have heard from the Opposition in the past few months?

Mr. Shore

I do not think that belligerent speeches necessarily help the promotion of trade. It is important that it should be understood on both sides of the House that there has been a substantial increase in Soviet trade generally with the Western world, and that Britain's share of that increase in recent years has been far too small.

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