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Gulf States

Volume 87: debated on Wednesday 27 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to seek to increase trade with the Gulf states.

Trade with the Gulf states is about £3 billion annually. We are mounting a special programme, in conjunction with British trade associations and chambers of commerce, to increase awareness of export opportunities in Gulf markets, and I shall visit Kuwait, Oman and the Yemen Arab Republic next week.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Gulf states are one of our most important and succesful markets? Will he do all he can to support British business men who want to fight off competition from the Japanese, Italians and Germans?

I agree with my hon. Friend. The Gulf co-operation council area is now our third largest trading area after Europe and the United States. It is encouraging to note that Britain's exports to the Gulf are going up at a time when those of many other countries are going down.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the recent potential exports of Tornadoes to Saudi Arabia and Oman is an indication of the great increase in trade with the Gulf states and that, while we can always improve on it, that is the sort of example that we should be following?

Why cut the export trade mission budget to the British Overseas Trade Board? Surely that has an immediate effect on trade with the Gulf.

I do not think that that is right. The figure for the BOTB has been held broadly constant, and I hope that there will be no effect on trade—[Interruption.] As I said, the figure is broadly constant. There is a small reduction consistent with what I have said. There will be very little effect on the level of our export promotion efforts.