HC Deb 24 January 1983 vol 35 c653
14. Mr. Knox

asked the Minister for Trade if he will list the 12 countries that took most British exports in the most recent year for which figures are available.

Mr. Peter Rees

In the 12 months to November, the United States of America was the biggest market for United Kingdom exports, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany, Netherlands, France, the Irish Republic, Belgium and Luxembourg, Italy, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, South Africa and Switzerland.

Mr. Knox

Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that all the European Community countries except Greece and Denmark are included in that list? Is there any guarantee that we should still be able to sell as much to those countries if we were outside the EC?

Mr. Rees

There is no guarantee whatever. Nor is there any guarantee that, for example, American non-oil investment would continue at its present rate in the United Kingdom rather than in the continental countries of the European Community.

Mr. Dobson

Was it a direct objective of Government policy that Britain should become a net importer of manufactured goods, or is it just an accident?

Mr. Rees

It was not a direct element of the United Kingdom's Government's policy. But I remind the hon. Gentleman, as I have reminded the House in other contexts, that we are a net exporter of oil and of services.