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Argentina (Relations)

Volume 82: debated on Monday 8 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is considering any early development in relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina; and if he will make a statement.

The twin objectives of our policy are: to fulfil our commitments to the Falkland islanders; and to restore more normal relations between Britain and Argentina.The question of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands is not for discussion. In our view, better relations with Argentina can only realistically be achieved by seeking agreement on practical issues. Commercial and economic relations offer a natural opportunity for progress of this kind. We have on a number of occasions made it plain to the Argentine Government that we are willing to discuss this subject. They have not so far responded to any of these initiatives.We have accordingly decided ourselves to take a fresh step to promote improvement in this field. We are lifting, with effect from midnight tonight, the ban on imports from Argentina which has been in place since April 1982.The International Monetary Fund has stressed the importance of increased trade for the recovery of the Argentine economy and for the resolution of its debt problems. That is important for international financial stability and for the consolidation of Argentine democracy. We have consistently played a constructive part in the relevant negotiations in the IMF and the Paris club. The announcement which I am making today will enable Argentina to recognise that if trade is to flourish, it has to be a two-way street, and so to lift its restrictions on imports from Britain. It will also benefit British industry, by restoring access to Argentine raw materials, and employment in the United Kingdom.Argentina now has the opportunity to respond to our initiative and thereby to open the way to further steps towards more normal relations between Britain and Argentina.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the proposal being considered by the European Economic Community from Polish bishops for European Community financial support for a Church-sponsored programme for private farms and trade in Poland.

This is an interesting proposal, but in our view it would be wrong to direct limited EC resources away from higher priority calls for programmes in the developing countries, particularly the poorest and least developed. It is, of course, open to all members of the community to make national contributions if they wish.