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United Arab Republic

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 18 May 1961

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32 and 33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) in view of the competition from the European Common Market countries, what proposals he has received on trade to the United Arab Republic Government to hold or increase the traditional British export trade with Egypt and Syria; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what steps he has taken to arrange a trade and payments agreement with the United Arab Republic.

I have heard of various proposals for increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic. This is at present governed by the Financial and Commercial Agreement of 1959. Within its framework, the annual value of our total trade with the United Arab Republic has increased by 32 per cent. in 1960 and by a further 5 per cent. in the first three months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

Is it not time that we brought our payments negotiations up to date? If a small country like Austria can make a payment under treaty arrangements, why cannot we? How are British industrialists like the Rootes Group to establish factories in the United Arab Republic unless more attention is paid to helping them?

We pay a great deal of attention to increasing our trade with the United Arab Republic, and the Advisory Council for Middle East Trade helps me to study the problems. I think that when the hon. Member looks at the financial and commercial agreement, he will see that the arrangements we then made are very satisfactory.