HC Deb 25 November 1953 vol 521 cc43-4W
78. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reports he has recently received from the Governor of Hong Kong on the effects of the embargo on trade in strategic goods with China on the economic position of the Colony; and if be will make a statement.

Mr. Lyttelton

Hong Kong's rigid observance of the embargo on strategic exports to China has led to a severe decline in her export trade with China. There was some recovery in the second half of 1952 and the first half of this year, but the Governor has reported a renewed downward trend during recent months, due principally to a considerable slackening in China's demand for pharmaceuticals.

The above trends are illustrated by the following table:

Period Total exports to China
First six months of 1951 (pre-embargo) 72,000,000
Second six months of 1951 (post-embargo) 28,250,000
First six months of 1952 10,400,000
Second six months of 1952 22,100,000
First six months of 1953 22,750,000

Exports in the third quarter of 1953 were £4,400,000 compared with £9,500,000 in the same period of 1952.

The embargo has imposed a severe strain upon Hong Kong's economy and, despite the success of manufacturers and merchants in finding new business, must continue to do so long as the traditional Chinese market is largely denied to Hong Kong. Our international obligations preclude any relaxation in Hong Kong controls at the present time.

I am, however, deeply conscious of the hardships suffered in Hong Kong and I shall do my best to ensure that the benefits of any relaxation which may attend a political settlement in the Far East are enjoyed by Hong Kong in equal measure and at the same time as they are available to other friendly countries.

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