HC Deb 03 May 1995 vol 259 c305
1. Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to encourage further investment by British companies overseas. [20411]

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

How best to succeed overseas is a matter for the management of British companies. The Government's Overseas Trade Services supply information and advice to help companies enter new markets.

Mrs. Lait

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Given that, historically, diplomats could not tell the difference between a gadget and a widget, how is the Foreign Office gearing up to offer expert help to companies that wish to extend their exports?

Mr. Goodlad

The promotion of trade and inward investment from overseas now uses more resources than any other front-line Foreign and Commonwealth Office activity. Some 30 per cent. of front-line staff overseas now do commercial work. We are creating more than 100 new commercial jobs abroad and opening 14 new posts, some in newly emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. British industry wants and is willing to pay for these services, which the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade and Industry jointly offer, and 90 per cent. of those who have used our services say that they would use them again. Export orders and inward investment are often won partly because of those services.