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Volume 19: debated on Monday 1 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he is taking to promote the expansion of trade with Malaysia; and if he will make a statement.

During his recent visit to Malaysia my right hon. and noble Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed fully with the Prime Minister of Malaysia the problems for bilateral trade that have arisen. As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal reported to the House on 11 February, we hope that this meeting will be the beginning of a better understanding.

Will my hon. and learned Friend redouble his efforts to try to find out why relations are so sour between Britain and that responsible, democractic, strong and free country, which has always been a supermarket for Britain's exports? In particular, will he seek to influence the policies of some of his colleagues to ensure that we do not treat some of our loyal Commonwealth friends in the same way as people coming from East Germany and China, while giving massive preference in fees and health care to all members of the EEC?

I assure the House that my right hon. and noble Friend has explored the question of Anglo-Malaysian relations with the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I should say British-Malaysian relations as it is St. David's day. Naturally, the high commission is in constant touch with the Malaysian Government. It is a matter of concern to us that there is reported to be some discrimination against British bids in the public sector in Malaysia. I assure the House that I am not aware of any discriminatory measures against Malaysia or its residents by the present Administration.

Will my hon. and learned Friend seriously consider sending the Minister for Industry and Information Technology to Malaysia, which has a ripe market for such technology and is looking to this country to assist it?

I am sure that my hon. Friend will take note of my hon. Friend's comments. It is for him to assess the opportunities in the light of public statements that have been emanating from Malaysia.