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Anglo-Russian Trade (Negotiations)

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about Anglo-Russian trade. The House will remember that in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 4th February, it was stated that we had proposed to the Russian Government that the Secretary for Overseas Trade should go to Moscow for discussions. When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs saw Generalissimo Stalin on 24th March, he referred to this proposal, and said we should like talks to begin between the Russian Minister for Foreign Trade and our representative so as to see to what extent the two countries could help one another on trade matters. I am glad to be able to announce that Generalissimo Stalin shared this view, and said that he believed that the basis for mutually advantageous trade could be found.

My hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade is accordingly arranging to leave for Moscow on 18th April. The purpose of his visit will be primarily to have a general exchange of views with Mr. Mikoyan about the possibilities of future trade between the two countries. We are, of course, especially concerned that everything possible should be done to bring about a resumption of the flow of those raw materials, such as timber, which we used to import from Russia and the Baltic States before the war. The ussian Government are no doubt anxious on their side to obtain from this country supplies of the machinery and equipment which they need for their reconstruction.

I should perhaps make it clear that it is not the intention that my hon. Friend should at this stage conclude any formal trade agreement, but, by reaching an understanding on questions of principle, he should facilitate the negotiation of specific contracts between the buyers and sellers on both sides.