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Exports (Efta Countries)

Volume 721: debated on Thursday 25 November 1965

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asked the President of the Board of Trade what percent- age increase took place in Great Britain's exports to European Free Trade Association countries in the first, second and third quarters of 1965 compared with the comparable periods in 1964.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with this rate of progress in an area in which we have such overwhelming advantages? Has he any plans to deal with the matter?

I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has a Question on the Order Paper regarding plans. There has been an increase in exports to E.F.T.A. countries this year of a wide range of goods including metals, chemicals, textiles, non-electrical machinery and motor vehicles. I think that this is a success story which ought to be applauded.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what further action he is taking to increase British trade with the European Free Trade Association countries following his discussions at Copenhagen with representatives of member states.

The complete removal of industrial tariffs in E.F.T.A. by the end of next year provides great opportunities for British exporters. I have taken special steps to bring these opportunities to their notice, and to remind them of the services my Department can offer to assist their efforts.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government have any intention of postponing the removal of the tariffs for this area?

I understand the hon. and gallant Member to be referring to the import surcharge. We have a binding commitment on this and, as the House already knows, as our balance of payments difficulties are eased the import surcharge will be gradually lowered.

Is the hon. Member aware that during the visit of a Parliamentary delegation to Sweden during the summer it was reported to some hon. Members that the extentive advertising campaigns in Sweden by the British car industry have had to be cancelled because of the non-availability of car deliveries to that important market?

Our exports to Sweden are a striking example of the opportunities that E.F.T.A. provides. They are now about £200 million a year. This country of about 8 million people has become our largest export market in Europe after West Germany, and our fifth largest in the world.

Has the hon. Member's Department had any reports of the adverse effects of the import charge on exports to the E.F.T.A. countries?