HL Deb 11 May 1981 vol 420 cc326-8

2.42 p.m.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether discussions took place with a view to increasing Anglo-Romanian trade during the recent visit of the Prime Minister of Romania to the United Kingdom and, if so, what progress has been made and what further action is contemplated.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, during his visit the Romanian Prime Minister discussed trade matters with my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Secretaries of State for Industry, Trade and Energy. Both sides expressed their desire to see the further development of United Kingdom-Romanian trade. A number of sectors offering particularly good opportunities for industrial co-operation were identified; these included the energy and aviation fields. In addition, representatives from a number of British companies were able to meet the Romanian Prime Minister. Particular opportunities discussed during the visit will be followed up with the firms concerned.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that very satisfactory Answer. Is he aware that, despite obvious political differences between our two countries, relations, trade-wise, with Romania should be enhanced at every opportunity? Can my noble friend say whether the construction industry, which is suffering a down-turn at the present time, was involved in these talks, particularly in view of previous work in the Danube basin, and also the chemical industry, where there is surely quite a potentiality in that particularly lovely country?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I understand that the construction industry was not one of those that was in fact discussed at the time of the recent visit. I do not have information upon whether or not the chemical industry was raised, but I feel certain that there must be some prospects there none the less.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, would the noble Lord bear in mind the importance of sustaining, within our resources, the Government in Romania, which has shown such a courageously independent posture on so many critical international questions?

Lord Trefgarne

Certainly, my Lords; the noble and learned Lord is of course quite right.

Lord Derwent

My Lords, can my noble friend tell me—it is a matter purely of curiosity, but all questions ought to be asked out of curiosity—at what stage Roumania started being spelt "Romania"?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, must say that that question occured to me when I was preparing myself to answer this Question this afternoon. I am afraid that I do not, as yet, have an answer.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, may I, on a point of elucidation, ask my noble friend whether he is aware that it comes, I think, from ancient Rome, where they had strong links?

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, will the noble Lord tell us what is the ECGD cover on Romania and whether British exporters are fully protected in dealings with that country; whether it has been extended or not?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, as I think the noble Lord knows, the precise level of cover available in any specific market is not normally published, but I can assure the noble Lord that ECGD cover is fully available for the Romanian market, and indeed is fully adequate for the needs.