HC Deb 07 December 1988 vol 143 c311
16. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the growth of United Kingdom trade with the European Economic Community.

Mr. Alan Clark

We welcome the growth in trade with the European Community. Increased trade widens buyers' choice, encourages greater efficiency, and stimulates growth in the economy as a whole.

Mr. Marshall

Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that the European Community takes 50 per cent. of our exports underlines both the potential for 1992 and the folly of those who sought at the 1983 election, and subsequently, to take Britain out of the European Community?

Mr. Clark

My hon. Friend's point is well taken. I am glad to add another statistic. The value of our exports of manufactures to the European Community is growing at an annual rate of 17 per cent.

Mr. Wilson

How does the Minister view the prospects for the Scotch whisky industry in the European Community?

Mr. Clark

Very favourably—as they are throughout the world.

Mr. Soames

With his well-known enthusiasm for the European Economic Community, does my hon. Friend agree that, although British business has done well in the Community recently, a limiting factor to developing our business is the poor language skills of British managers? Does he agree that the Government should take steps to ensure that companies are much better geared to promote their goods in the countries to which they are trying to sell them?

Mr. Clark

My hon. Friend is entirely right. One problem is that so many of our customers speak English —of a kind. That sometimes deludes British exporters into thinking that they can reply at length, deliver technical specifications and issue sales literature in English. In fact, the sooner they realise that it is essential to circulate their literature and to converse in, if possible, the language of their customers, the better their prospects.