§ Mr. Austin Mitchell
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the method of calculation of the British balance of trade and payments figures following the inauguration of the single market; how deficits with the whole of the EEC and with individual countries in it will be measured; how British external balances with countries outside will be assessed; and how borrowing and regional aid levels necessary to balance trade flows can then be assessed.
§ Mr. Nelson
The only change in the methodology used to estimate the United Kingdom balance of payments 419W accounts resulting directly from the completion of the single market at the end of this year concerns the data on trade in goods.
A new system, known at Intrastat, linked to VAT returns is being introduced throughout the European Community to measure trade in goods between member states. The present system, based on custom's documents, will continue to be used to measure trade with countries outside the Community.
There will be a transitional period while Intrastat becomes fully established, but after this the trade figures will be available in the same detail as at present.