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Trade Statistics

Volume 23: debated on Monday 10 May 1982

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asked the Minister for Trade to what factors he attributes the state of the latest trade figures.

Export and import levels at the turn of the year were far higher than those reached in early 1981. This reflects the recovery in economic activity and the achievements of our exporters.

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that during the long, hard struggle of recent years, especially in regard to high levels of unemployment, many people have tended to overlook the great successes that we have enjoyed, particularly in trade? Does he agree that there are good prospects of improving still further on our current position from the firmer base that we now enjoy?

The whole House, I am sure, agrees with my hon. Friend that the performance of British exporters has been notably successful in the last three years and that businesses, as a result, have maintained a higher level of employment. The House will have noticed the relish with which the Opposition Front Bench suggest that our export performance over the years to come might not be so successful, presumably because they are deeply conscious of the export figures achieved under the previous Administration.

Will my hon. and learned Friend accept that it will be difficult to improve upon our latest trade figures with Spain in motors cars and components, because of the adverse differential tariffs raised by the Spanish Government which prevent our exporters from achieving their full potential there? Will he look into a matter that has dragged on for far too long while it was hoped that Spain would one day accede to the Community? Action appears to be continually postponed.

We do not look forward to an indefinite postponement of Spain's accession to the European Community. One of the benefits to the United Kingdom of Spain's accession will be the full opening up of the Spanish internal market.