§ Mr. David Porter
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the new opportunities available to British firms in eastern Europe; and what support services his Department is now able to offer such firms.
§ Mr. Ridley
[holding answer 15 January 1990]: My Department is well seized of the new commercial opportunities opening up in eastern Europe. These include, in particular, the opportunities for direct investment; the possibility of increasing exports of goods and services; opportunities for joint ventures and other forms of industrial co-operation; as well as consultancy and management training opportunities.186W
My Department has an eastern European branch of 25 staff directly responsible for commercial relations and trade promotion in eastern Europe. This branch is able to provide both general and specific advice and guidance to United Kingdom business men on investment opportunites in these markets and about the availability of the various United Kingdom and EC assistance schemes recently created. These resources are supplemented by other staff in my Department working on various specific export service schemes, such as trade fairs, and by the export service staff in the Department's regional offices. My Department also funds the East European Trade Council, the BOTB's area advisory group for eastern Europe.