Manufactured Goods (Exports)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Carlisle Mr Kenneth Carlisle , Lincoln 12:00 am, 27th June 1985

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the exports of manufactured goods over the past year give evidence of economic recovery.

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover

Yes. The monthly trade figures for May 1985, published this morning, show that manufacturing exports in the three months to May are up by 13 per cent. on a year earlier.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Carlisle Mr Kenneth Carlisle , Lincoln

I welcome that encouraging performance, but has that success been matched by a growth in manufacturing investment, as is required if we are to maintain this performance in the future?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover

Yes. I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that the figures for 1984 show an increase in manufacturing investment of 14 per cent., which I hope will provide the basis for a sustained improvement in manufacturing exports.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

Would not the Chief Secretary be more encouraged by the trade figures if they were the result of an increase in exports rather than a fall in imports? Is he not a little concerned about whether the fall in imports means that we have reached an incipient fall-off in the rate of growth, if not a recession?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover

There is no evidence that we are heading for a recession. All the indications are that we are in the fifth year of growth since the trough of the recession.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that while the performance of British exports is excellent, the real problem facing manufacturing industry is the penetration of the home market? Can the Government provide help?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover

Yes we can, by creating the right climate for an improvement in our economic performance, to which the Government's economic policies have been devoted. The figures show that British industry is becoming more competitive and that it will be able to retain a share of the home market.

Photo of Mr Terry Davis Mr Terry Davis , Birmingham, Hodge Hill

Surely the Chief Secretary appreciates that it is the balance of trade in manufactured goods, not the level of exports, that is most important. If the Chief Secretary is so pleased with the level of exports, will he explain why our balance of trade in manufactured goods is heading for a further deterioration—indeed, the fifth deterioration?

Photo of Mr Peter Rees Mr Peter Rees , Dover

It is more important to recognise the overall performance, which shows that so far this year there is a current account surplus of £724 million. The forecast for this year is an increase of £3 billion.