Tobacco Industry Exports (Egypt)

Oral Answers to Questions — Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 7th February 2013.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering 9:30 am, 7th February 2013

What the tobacco industry exports which created 2% of Egypt’s sovereign debt owed to UK Export Finance were used for; when those exports were made; and whether they were to the Government of Egypt or to private companies.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills

The 2% of Egypt’s sovereign debts relating to tobacco industry exports arose following defaults by the Government of Egypt, who purchased tobacco-processing equipment from UK exporters in the 1980s. The debts were rescheduled in 1987 and 1991 through the Paris Club. The 1991 rescheduling included 50% multilateral debt forgiveness, resulting in the UK forgiving £260 million of debt.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Does my hon. Friend share my concern and that of my constituent, Rev. David Milner, and the Jubilee Debt Campaign that Government-backed UK loans and credits to developing countries should be for worthwhile projects based on responsible lending criteria, should have affordable repayment terms, and should not imperil sustainable economic growth in the countries concerned?

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills

Of course UK Export Finance should support growth that is sustainable. It has recently published on its website the sovereign debts owed to it by overseas Governments in order to become yet more transparent.