HC Deb 02 February 1994 vol 236 cc886-8
13. Mr. Bates

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department is doing to promote trade with Brazil.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Alastair Goodlad)

Like all Foreign and Commonwealth Office posts, those in Brazil have export promotion as a top priority. They seek out export opportunities, advise British companies on the business to be won in their markets, lobby on their behalf for major contracts and against discrimination, organise visits by Ministers and trade missions with the specific objective of winning business, among other tasks. I am happy to say that our exports to Brazil were up by more than 50 per cent. in 1993 compared with 1992.

Mr. Bates

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Is he aware that that positive answer is endorsed by news that Westland Helicopters has secured a £150 million order to supply nine Superlynx helicopters to the Brazilian navy? Does he agree that that demonstrates not only the strength of the defence industry in Britain, beating off tough competition from the United States and France, but the healthy trade relations that we enjoy with Brazil?

Mr. Goodlad

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he says, 1994 has got off to an excellent start in our exports to Brazil and I welcome the announcement by Westland of its success in the £150 million order to supply helicopters to the Brazilian navy. Our embassy in Brazil supported the negotiations throughout.

Mr. McAvoy

The Minister has confirmed that there are arms exports to Brazil. Will he clarify whether Britain also gives aid to Brazil? If the answer is affirmative and bearing in mind the fact that the former Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Younger, and the former Malaysian foreign Minister said that there were links between aid and arms to Malaysia, will the Minister give a categorical assurance that such links will not be established with Brazil?

Mr. Goodlad

The aid programme to Brazil is running at about £4 million a year. Its priorities cover forestry, the urban environment, health and help to non-governmental organisations engaged in rural and urban poverty, including those that help street children. Of course there is no connection between the aid programme and arms sales.