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Communist Bloc Countries

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1961

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present rate of annual value of Great Britain's import and export trade with countries of the Communist bloc; what are the prospects for the expansion of this trade; and what estimate he has made of the extent to which these prospects would be affected by Great Britain's entry into the Common Market.

As the answer to the first part of the Question contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The prospects are that the trade in both directions will in general continue to expand steadily. As trade between the Six and the Communist bloc has increased steadily since the formation of the Common Market, there is no reason to suppose that our own trade prospects with the bloc will be significantly affected if we join the European Economic Community.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give a firm assurance that any present negotiations for the expansion of East-West trade and trade between the United Kingdom and the countries of the Eastern bloc are in no way being jeopardised by the negotiations to enter the Common Market?

Is the Minister aware of a report recently published by the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress advocating an economic embargo against trade with the Eastern countries in support of N.A.T.O.'s strategy. In view of the danger to this country's balance of payments, which was admitted in that Report, will the Minister take this opportunity of dissociating this Government from any such ideas of an embargo?

I have not studied the Report but I can assure the hon. Member that at present our policy of trading with the countries of the Soviet bloc remains unchanged.

Will the Minister note that neither the political prejudices of West Germany nor its dependence on American good will inhibits West Germany in developing its trade with the Communist bloc? Will he take the moral?

Following is the information:

CountryCurrent Annual Rate*
United Kingdom ImportsUnited Kingdom ExportsUnited Kingdom Re-Exports
East Germany7·17·92·1

* 9 months of 1961 expressed as annual rate.