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Export Trade (Government Plans)

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to announce a constructive programme of world trade development before this country, to facilitate manufacturers in making the necessary arrangements and adjustments to recover our trade lost during the years of war.

The discussions now taking place in Washington will, I hope, be extended before long into a wider international conference on overseas trade. At the present stage of the discussions I am, therefore, unable to make a detailed statement on the broader aspects of trade policy affecting Governments. Whatever the results of these discussions, it is vital that our own export trade should be revived and expanded. To this end, our plans are going forward: At present our manufacturers and merchants have a very welcome volume of orders on their books. The Government is taking every possible step to speed up the reconversion of industry so that these orders may be fulfilled with the least delay. But we must prepare now for the time when the seller's market may no longer exist, and our immediate arrangements should be devised, so far as possible, in such a way as to assure us of a continuing market after the exceptionally favourable conditions of the present have disappeared.May I mention a few of the more important steps we are taking? I have already authorised the removal of export licensing requirements affecting a long list of commodities. Invitations have also gone out to a number of Export Groups and representative bodies in industry to meetings at which their export problems will be reviewed and other invitations to similar meetings will follow. I am also asking Working Parties to make recommendations to me for the expansion of the export trade of those industries for which such Committees have been, or will be, appointed. Visits by our exporters to overseas markets are being facilitated. The staffs of our Embassies and Legations and at the offices of His Majesty's Trade Commissioners overseas are being strengthened so that they may give a fuller service to our exporters.The Government appeals particularly to all manufacturers who have had little or no first-hand experience of our export trade to prepare to play their part in its expansion. I would ask them to do this either directly by arranging with United Kingdom export merchant firms to market their goods abroad or by directly appointing selling agents overseas or by making joint selling arrangements with other manufacturers. The Department of Overseas Trade will welcome inquiries. The Regional Controllers of the Board of Trade and the Export Credits Guarantee Department will readily render assistance. The Trade Associations and Export Groups (including the National General Merchants Export Group) will help intending exporters to prepare their plans.