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Non-Ferrous Metals (Export To Russia)

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will explain the reason for the fall in the export of non-ferrous metals to Russia in 1960 as compared with 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Soviet imports of non-ferrous metals are mainly copper. I understand that the Soviet Union is now importing this from other producing countries, including Rhodesia, rather than through the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman has not given the reason why that is being done. Is it not in the long run due to the fact that we are refusing to admit into this country any quantities of a certain number of Russian exports and that this process which has taken place in copper will continue to be repeated unless we reverse that policy? Is there any reason why we should not give Russia most-favoured-nation treatment, as Canada does, which is a method that works successfully?

I can only surmise at the reason of the Soviet authorities for not buying their copper from us. I think, however, that the reason is that the strategic control on copper has been removed and the Russians are now free to buy from whatever source they wish, whereas formerly they bought from us a large quantity of copper wire. The other points in the hon. Member's supplementary question do not have a bearing on the matter of copper. As regards most-favoured-nation treatment, we accord that to Russia in certain respects, and this will be one of the subjects discussed by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade during his visit to Moscow.