HC Deb 01 February 1982 vol 17 cc8-9
9. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what the total positive or negative balance of trade has been in manufactures with the European Economic Community and the rest of the world, respectively, since the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community; and if he will express these totals as amounts per day, respectively.

Mr. Peter Rees

For the period 1973 to 1980 there was a total deficit of about £10 billion with the European Community and a surplus of £34 billion with the rest of the world, £3½ million and £11½ million per day respectively.

Mr. Taylor

As Britain traditionally always had a surplus in manufacturing trade with the Common Market countries before we became a member, and as since then it has had a deficit of £3½ million per day, does my hon. and learned Friend think it worth while to have a full, independent inquiry into why our trade in manufactures with the EEC has deteriorated so significantly and our trade with the rest of the world improved so significantly, as that must affect a substantial number of jobs in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Rees

To get the problem in perspective, I should perhaps remind the House that Germany is now our biggest export market, and that the Continental countries of the European Community have shown the greatest increase. I do not take the gloomy view that my hon. Friend has just shown, and I see no call for an inquiry at present.

Mr. Ford

Will the Minister also say what are our trade balances with Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia?

Mr. Rees

Not without notice, I regret to say.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is it not a fact that, as a proportion of our total trade, our deficit with the EEC is one-third of what it is on the same basis with the United States, and one-twelfth of what it is with Japan?

Mr. Rees

Yes. Perhaps on this occasion I may give the House some figures. The export-import ratio for manufactures with the EEC is 88 per cent., with the United States 69 per cent., and with Japan 29 per cent. That points the moral.

Mr. Hoyle

Does the Minister agree that these appalling figures make the case for Britain leaving the EEC, because the bonanza that we were promised has not materialised and shows no sign of materialising in the future?

Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman states his own position, and we know that the party of which he is a distinguished member is making its own calculations on this important issue. Whether its figures on the cost of withdrawal are accurate remains to be seen. This Administration are firmly committed to membership of the EEC.