HC Deb 10 February 1998 vol 306 cc139-40
15. Mr. Martlew

What assessment he has made of the impact of the current financial turbulence in Asia on his Department's export promotion work; and if he will make a statement. [26445]

Mr. Fatchett

It is too early to say what the full impact of the current financial turbulence in Asia will be on British companies doing business in the region. We shall continue to provide the full range of overseas trade services. We are confident that, with full implementation of the necessary policy reforms, Asia's impressive growth performance will continue over the medium term and that there will be excellent opportunities for British companies.

Mr. Martlew

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that this is a glitch in the Asian countries and that there will be continued growth in the region? What efforts have the British Government made to ensure that British exporters can take advantage of the situation in those Asian countries when their economies improve?

Mr. Fatchett

We have urged the Asian countries that have been affected by the financial turbulence to take the measures urged on them by the International Monetary Fund. We feel that there is a need for greater transparency, accountability and openness in financial markets, and those countries are now taking heed of the programmes. We have worked hard alongside other countries to assist the IMF efforts.

As to the long-term future of British exports, we continue to see the Asian market as viable and vibrant and, through our overseas trade services, we shall certainly assist all British companies.

Mr. Ian Taylor

As one of those recovering from a hard night at the Brit awards, I urge the Minister to continue to work with the music industry to ensure that its exports to Asia remain as buoyant as they have been in recent years. Will he work with his right hon. and hon. Friends at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and at the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure that intellectual property is protected? One of the greatest threats to our music industry exports is the thieving of intellectual property, which is still carried out by one or two leading Asian countries.

Mr. Fatchett

It is good to see that the hon. Gentleman is dry after his night out at the Brit awards—I understand that, in terms of his politics, he is not always held in that regard by his colleagues.

We recognise the important role that the music industry plays in British exports, and we have talked on many occasions about the successes of British groups around the world. Britain's cultural exports now account for about £10 billion a year. We shall certainly continue to promote them, as they are important to the image and the long-term success of the British economy. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we understand the importance of British intellectual property rights and we shall continue to work hard to ensure that those rights are guaranteed.

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