European Community

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th July 1982.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet 12:00 am, 19th July 1982

asked the Minister for Trade if he will make a statement on recent trends in the visible and invisible United Kingdom balance of trade with other European Economic Community countries.

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover and Deal

In the six months to May, United Kingdom visible trade with the rest of the European Community showed an average monthly crude deficit of £110 million, on a seasonally adjusted basis, with both imports and exports running at about £2 billion a month. Information on invisible trade with the European Community is compiled on an annual basis and is not yet available for 1981.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that information. Will he confirm that 43 per cent. of our total trade is with the other EEC countries? Will he also confirm that a greater proportion of other countries' investment in Western Europe has been switched to the United Kingdom since we joined the EEC? Does he agree that that trend would quickly be reversed if there were any thought that we might leave the EEC?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover and Deal

The Community accounts for about 43 per cent. of all British exports compared with about 30 per cent. in 1970. That proves the ever-increasing importance of that market for British exporters. It is an unlikely hypothesis, since this Administration are firmly committed to the United Kingdom remaining a member of the Community, but I agree that there would not be such massive overseas investment in Britain were it not for our access to the European Community market.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Aberdare

What is the Department doing about British cars being bought in Europe at about one-third less than they can be bought in Britain? Where do such cars appear on the balance sheet? Are they imports, exports or what?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover and Deal

They appear among our imports.

Photo of Mr David Ginsburg Mr David Ginsburg , Dewsbury

Has there not been a serious deterioration in invisible earnings, such as tourism? What steps does the Minister intend to take to improve the British tourist industry?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover and Deal

Of course we recognise the importance of the British tourist industry. Its earnings have increased in the last five months. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and the House will be reasonably assured about that.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

Does it not cause my hon. and learned Friend the gravest alarm to read the tables published by his Department in Hansard on 29 June, which show that over the previous six months the daily deficit in manufacturing trade with the Common Market was £11 million compared with a profit of £15 million a day in that trade with the rest of the world? As we used to have a profit in manufacturing trade with the EEC before we joined, does not that trend require serious investigation, bearing in mind the appalling consequences to British jobs involved in the figures?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover and Deal

Naturally, I admire my hon. Friend's consistent concern about the problem. I remind him that for the last few years we have run a deficit in manufactured goods with the United States. If I showed anxiety at every deficit we might be led to some curious conclusions. I imagine that my hon. Friend does not suppose that we should enter into a protectionist war against the United States.