Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th March 1992.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South 12:00 am, 4th March 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the United States Government regarding that country's aid and trade embargo against Vietnam and its veto against Vietnam's membership of the IMF and the World bank.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

We regularly discuss those issues in the relevant forums.

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South

Is the Secretary of State aware that the United States still appears to be at war with Vietnam and that it is blocking all aid and trade in the International Monetary Fund and World bank and through misuse of the COCOM regulations? Only recently vice-president Quayle remarked that most of the refugees in Hong Kong are political—which, as the Secretary of State will be aware, led to a halving of applications for voluntary repatriation. No quantity of private representations in the relevant forums will make any difference. It is about time that the Government said something publicly to the psychopaths who run American foreign policy, with a view to achieving change.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

The hon. Gentleman knows full well that United States Government policy is a matter for the United States. Now that change is coming, we are trying to ensure that Vietnam will have access to international financial institutions. We already keep under review financial contributions to the support group, because clearing the arrears to the IFIs is absolutely critical. Those to the IMF already amount to £108 million, and to the Asian Development bank, $6 million. There is no United Kingdom trade embargo. This country is Vietnam's fifth largest investor, at some $143—6 million. British industry is taking a clear interest in the opportunities that exist in Vietnam, and I hope that others will follow our example.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

While I cannot associate myself with some of the language used by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), many people feel that it is high time that the United States modernised its economic relations with Vietnam and started to observe the common action programme agreed between 24 countries in respect of the Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong. In view of the events surrounding the Haitian boat people who attempted to enter the United States, does it make any sense for that country to continue opposing the implementation of the common action programme?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

We consistently encourage observance of the common action programme in respect of Vietnamese boat people and in the light of events in other parts of the world, such as that to which my right hon. Friend referred. We have done well in trying to ensure that we could help Vietnamese migrants—more than 20,000 of whom have returned from all over the region. The success of our work, with the full support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, leads us to believe that the American Government would do better to adopt a plan similar to our own.