§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their attention has been drawn to a proposal for setting up a new fund 1121 for long-term financing of export orders from Western Germany in which the Frankfurt Export Credit Bank is to participate, and how, in their opinion, such a proposal could be reconciled with the Berne Agreements.]
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD MANCROFT)
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government are aware of the reports of this proposal which relates to the provision of export credits and not, as my noble friend Lord Hawke's Question might suggest, to export credit insurance. As regards the Berne Agreements, I assume that my noble friend is referring to the international association of credit insurers, usually called the Berne Union, whose members, including our own Export Credit Guarantees Department, agree that credit insurance shall not normally be offered for credit of more than five years from delivery. Her Majesty's Government are not yet fully seized of all the details of the proposal, to which my noble friend's Question refers, but the Germans have given no indication that they propose to provide credit insurance facilities in excess of the present 5-year limit.
My Lords, if the effect of these arrangements will be that there is to be longer-term finance available to German exporters than was visualised under the Berne understanding, would Her Majesty's Government let it be known that our exporters will not be left behind?
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, we do not want: to start a race in credit-giving, but if our competitors were to push the credit terms for a particular type of export beyond those normally insurable, and our exporters felt that they were excluded from business for this reason, then we should, I think, be bound to consider extending our cover, too, in the field of the trade affected.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, is my noble friend aware that his last reply will give great satisfaction to those engaged in exporting; and also that, for practical purposes, export credits and export credit insurance do go together?