HC Deb 10 May 1995 vol 259 c746
19. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his latest estimate of Britain's share of world trade (a) in visibles, (b) in invisibles and (c) in (a) and (b) combined. [21960]

Mr. Needham

In 1993, the latest year for which information is available, the United Kingdom had a 5 per cent. share of world visible exports, an 8 per cent. share of world invisible exports and a 6 per cent. share of visibles and invisibles combined.

Mr. Thurnham

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, under the Government's policies, Britain is more than maintaining its share of world trade compared with the years of decline when we suffered under socialist anti-enterprise policies dictated by trade union barons?

Mr. Needham

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) said that we were losing market share after market share. In fact, that is not true. Our share of world trade has gone up from 4.9 per cent. under the last Labour Government to 5.2 per cent. now. For a nation of 1 per cent. of the world population to have 6 per cent. of the world's trade is no mean achievement.

Mr. Purchase

Although we have improved our exports and general share of world trade, we have not kept pace with the general increase in world trade, which, during the past 12 months, has averaged more than 8.5 per cent., a total which we have fallen somewhat below. Is it not true that we are suffering now from a lack of capacity in our exporting industries which, had it not been wasted during the 1980s, would have stood us in good stead now?

Mr. Needham

The hon. Gentleman knows that our share of world trade increased last year. Our share of exports in volume terms was 11 per cent. up against an increase of 8.5 per cent. Instead of being somewhat down, it was a hell of a lot up.