Trade Balance

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 22nd February 2007.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 10:30 am, 22nd February 2007

What the UK trade balance is; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The deficit on trade in goods and services was £4.9 billion in December 2006, the most recent period for which figures are available from the Office for National Statistics. There was a robust growth in UK exports of goods and services in 2006. The value of exports of goods and services was up 12.7 per cent. on 2005. The value of UK goods exports was up 15.2 per cent. on the previous year. The stock of inward investment in the UK rose to £483 billion at the end of 2005, a rise of £119 billion over the stock at the end of 2004. The UK is the second most popular destination for inward investment in the world today.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Throughout the whole of the last Conservative Government, we used to listen to Labour Members telling us how important it was to have a surplus in goods and services, but we have not had a surplus since January 1998, and we now have the worst deficit ever. Will the Minister tell the House exactly what this wretched Labour Government are doing to promote exports?

Photo of Ian McCartney Ian McCartney Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Department of Trade and Industry, Minister of State (Trade & Investment), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

When it comes to wretched Governments, the hon. Gentleman should know one—he was a sycophantic supporter of them before he lost his seat. Under his Government, we had inflation at 10 per cent., 3 million on the dole, 1,000 businesses going to the wall every week, national debt doubled and 350,000 young people on the dole. This is now a different country with a world-class economy and a Government who are committed to British business. We are providing 2.5 million new jobs. This is a different country—thank God—with a Labour Government.