HC Deb 16 March 1938 vol 333 cc424-5W
Sir R. Rankin

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that according to the figures in Table 280 of the Statistical Abstract, just published, the imports to the United Kingdom from the Dutch West Indies rose from £182,350 in 1923 to £12,543,691 in 1936, and that the imports from the British West Indies over the same period have only risen from £5,886,473 to £8,007,651; to what he attributes the comparatively favourable development of trade with the Dutch West Indies; and what steps are being taken to ensure that trade with the British West Indies develops along equally satisfactory lines?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

I am aware of the statistics to which my hon. Friend refers. The explanation lies in the development in the Dutch West Indies of facilities for refining the crude petroleum produced in the adjacent parts of Venezuela. Almost the entire volume of imports from the Dutch West Indies consist of petroleum which accounted for £12,530,000 in 1936. Apart from the exports of oil from Trinidad worth £908,000 in 1923 and £2,315,000 in 1936, the exports of the British West Indies consist in the main of agricultural products which already enjoy considerable margins of preference.