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Anglo-Portuguese Negotiations

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 5 April 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason the Anglo-Portuguese trade and financial negotiations have broken down; and, in view of the serious effect that the exclusion of many British exports from the Portuguese market will have, what action he is taking to find a mutually satisfactory solution between this country and Portugal.

The negotiations have not broken down; they are now being resumed through His Majesty's Embassy, Lisbon, and we expect shortly to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. The interruption in United Kingdom exports to Portugal should be regarded as temporary.

Can the Chancellor say how much has already been lost through the action of the Portuguese Government in cutting off imports into their country, and how long he anticipates this state of affairs will continue?

I do not anticipate that it will last after the time when the agreement is settled up. I do not think that we have necessarily lost anything. It may be that these same goods will be imported afterwards.

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a serious answer? The trade between England and Portugal is worth £18 million a year, and it has now been cut off. Surely the Chancellor can tell us how long he thinks we shall have to suffer from this instead of saying it depends upon how long it will take to mend the situation?

It is not a question of mending the situation. I do not expect it to last after the time when we arrive at an agreement, and I expect that to be shortly.

Is not this a matter in which people are seriously interested? Even a short interruption of valuable export trade of this kind means a great deal to us, and we are surely entitled to have from the Chancellor a serious answer to our fears. Can he assure us that within a reasonable time an agreement will be concluded which will allow this valuable export trade to be resumed?

I have already said twice that we expect shortly to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement and that we expect exports to be resumed when we have done that.