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Dollar Sales, Foreign Countries

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made towards stopping the purchase, by countries outside the sterling bloc, of commodities which are subsequently resold for United States dollars.

I am pressing on with various remedial proposals and measures. I have, for example, been able to secure changes in some payments agreements which now provide that transferable account sterling may be used only for direct current transactions. I am consulting interested members of the sterling area on other proposals which would require their co-operation.

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that this robbing of the sterling area of tens of millions of dollars over the last six months to a year is creating great pressure on the dollar gap, and will he take very much wider and more drastic steps than those he has mentioned?

It is not possible to take very much wider or more drastic steps, except in association with other countries, both the countries whose nationals are engaging in these transactions and the countries in whose areas the goods are to be found. Steps are being taken with both of these countries to try and get a correction.

Has the Chancellor received satisfactory co-operation from the Governments of these nationals who have undoubtedly been assisting in this serious drain on our sterling resources?

I think that they are doing their best to help, but this is a very complicated matter, as anyone knows who has to deal with exchange problems.

When the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he is dealing with these transferable areas, can he say what percentage is now covered by such agreements as he has mentioned?

Will the Chancellor bear in mind that he has already established a precedent by the embargo on the export of rubber to Siam? Having established that precedent, why does he not use it in a wider circle?

It is not always appropriate. It might not be appropriate to establish an embargo on the export of rubber to Europe.