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Exports (Europe And Canada)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the quantity and value of steel, machinery and other goods desired by Canada, which have been sold to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland, Czechoslovakia and other European countries during the past two years; and why these goods were allocated to those countries rather than to Canada.

With the hon. and gallant Member's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures showing actual United Kingdom exports of steel, machinery and other goods to the countries in question for 1947 and 1948, but he will appreciate that these figures do not provide any general assessment of what Canadian importers desired to buy from United Kingdom exporters. As regards goods subject at the time to allocation or analogous arrangements, I may say that, with the exception of finished steel, I have no evidence that, if we had failed to send the quantities in question to Europe, they would necessarily have been purchased by Canadian importers. By selling small quantities of steel we secure in return the entry to these markets for much larger quantities of goods which are not readily saleable in Canada and thus increase our power to purchase essential foodstuffs and raw materials. I may add that exports are not now allocated by markets, but, in the guidance exporters are given about the relative desirability of the various markets, we have repeatedly emphasised that Canada and the United States should come first.

Can it be denied that Canada has not received those articles from this country to the full amount she desired, and that some of those articles were sold to other countries unfriendly to us, that they might send back other goods that we did not want? In view of the fact that it is necessary to increase our dollar savings to the utmost amount possible, and also in view of the immense contributions of Canada to this country since the war, is it not incumbent on us to meet the wishes of Canada, and to let her have all the goods she desires to take from us?

I do not accept all the implications of the hon. and gallant Member's remarks. The figures of exports to Canada for 1947 and 1948, respectively, were £44 million and £70 million, which, by comparison with the figures for our European exports, were high, and so I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will agree that it is quite wrong of him to suggest that we are neglecting the Canadian market. Nevertheless, I accept his main conclusion that it is our business to expand this market in every way we can.

In view of the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the baffling problem of the dollar deficit, and the fact that America and Canada demand dollar payments, is it not desirable that the greatest possible measure of trade should be developed with the Soviet Union and other countries of Eastern Europe?

To clarify this position, may I ask whether what the hon. Gentleman has said covers the question of tinplate, in respect of which, certainly in January, I found a good deal of Canadian anxiety, because of the belief that it was going to Russia and Poland, and Canada would have liked it for the tinning of salmon?

Following are the figures:

Iron and Steel (a)MachineryOther GoodsTotal
Soviet Union2,54416821,31447447,30710,4088,9623,5381,6961,29812,2725,310
All Other European Countries (b)629,73828,116659,52534,200187,49449,435255,08573,206282,711390,656360,262498,062
(a) Comprises in addition to iron and steel, certain manufactures thereof. Separate figures for iron and steel are not readily available.
(b) All countries in Europe, including Iceland, the Faroes, Turkey (European and Asiatic), Cyprus, Azores, Madeira and Malta.