HC Deb 19 January 1981 vol 997 cc6-7
9. Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has had further discussions with representatives of the Indonesian Government concerning bilateral trade; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Parkinson

My right hon. Friend the previous Secretary of State for Trade, at the invitation of the Indonesian Minister for Trade, visited Jakarta on 7 and 8 January. He discussed textile matters and wider bilateral trade issues with the President of Indonesia and several Indonesian Government Ministers. Quota levels were discussed at which the European Commission might reach agreement with Indonesia on the quantities of some Indonesian-made garments which might be imported into the United Kingdom in 1981. Normal trading between the United Kingdom and Indonesia has been resumed.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that statement. Does not this example of our recent relations with Indonesia serve as a warning to those hon. Members on both sides of the House who believe that there is some future in protectionist policies? Is it not now clear from this experience that the only way in which Britain will be successful is by manufacturing and selling to the best standards in the world?

Mr. Parkinson

My hon. Friend is right. What comes out of this experience is that those who argue that we can protect our industries without expecting retaliation have been misleading themselves.

Mr. Straw

Why is the Minister giving a false impression about the facts of the Indonesian argument? Is it not the case that the dispute arose not out of a unilateral imposition of quotas by Britain, but out of a breach by Indonesia of a set of quotas previously agreed between Indonesia and the EEC, and that the message is that world trade will be disrupted if countries such as Indonesia break bilateral and multilateral agreements, on which the whole of world trade must depend?

Mr. Parkinson

It was precisely to establish that point that my right hon. Friend went to Indonesia. He pointed out to the Indonesians that we were not discriminating against them, but that they were one of 41 countries with which we had agreements and that we could not allow those agreements to be torn up unilaterally. However, it is a fact that my right hon. Friend negotiated levels of access for 1981 that are only two-thirds of those for 1980.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Until the Indonesian Government release their thousands of political prisoners and end their invasion of East Timor, will the British Government cease all supplies of arms and military equipment, including training aeroplanes, to that country?

Mr. Parkinson

I know that the hon. Gentleman has extremely strong views about these matters, but he tends to be rather selective in choosing when to assert them. I have never heard him suggest that we should in any way interfere with our trade with Eastern Europe, for instance, or withdraw our ambassadors, which has been the demand in other cases, because of abuse of human rights there. Certainly we deplore the abuse of human rights wherever it occurs, but we try to separate that and trade. If we were to introduce a political acceptability test for trade we should sell very little to anyone.