HL Deb 22 May 1980 vol 409 cc1094-5WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  1. (i) what proportion and tonnage of trade between United Kingdom ports and Soviet ports is carried in—
  2. 1095
    1. (a) United Kingdom flag vessels which are more than 30 per cent. British owned;
    2. (b) United Kingdom flag vessels which are less than 30 per cent. British ownned;
    3. (c) Soviet flag vessels;
  3. (ii) whether there is anything in the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreements or in other agreements that bears on these matters; and
  4. (iii) how the state of affairs revealed in the answers to (i) and (ii) above compares with that of other member states of the European Community.


(i) It is not possible to distinguish between the two classes of British-flag vessels. In 1978 (the last year for which complete figures are available), British and Soviet-flag participation in total UK-USSR trade was as follows—

British flag Soviet flag Other flag
Total imports and exports (by weight—000 tonnes) 775 4,981 1,103
Proportion 11% 73% 16%

(ii) Agreement was reached when the Soviet Minister of Merchant Marine visited the United Kingdom in 1977 that we should move towards parity of carryings as between British and Soviet vessels. We monitor progress towards this objective at the annual meetings of the British-Soviet Joint Maritime Commission, established under the 1968 Treaty on Merchant Navigation between the United Kingdom and the USSR. Some progress has been made in the bilateral joint liner service between the United Kingdom and Baltic ports where the British-flags share (by weight) has increased to 35 per cent. British operators of bulk vessels often find the rates offered by the Soviets to be unremunerative.

(iii) The situation is similar in other EEC states. Soviet-flag carryings are of the order of three-quarters of the bilateral trade.