§ 33. Mr. N. Macpherson
asked the President of the Board of Trade the nature of the proposal made by the Finnish Government for a triangular trade agreement between Finland, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; whether a similar approach has been made by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and what reply he has given to the Finnish proposal.
§ Mr. P. Thorneycroft
The Finnish Government recently proposed that the United Kingdom might undertake to increase her imports from Russia, the sterling so earned being used by Russia to meet part of her trading deficit with Finland, who would in turn purchase more goods with that sterling from the United Kingdom.
There is at present no payments obstacle to such triangular trade, since sterling can already be freely transferred between Finland and Russia for current transactions. We have told the Finnish Government that, but have said that we will examine any concrete proposals they put forward, and have asked the Soviet Trade Delegation to let us know of any way in which we can assist.
§ Mr. Macpherson
While appreciating the difficulties of Finland, may I ask my right hon. Friend to give the House an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will not be distracted in any way from pursuing the very desirable end of reestablishing multilateral trade rather than bilateral or even tri-lateral agreements?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Certainly. In point of fact, the payment arrangements between these countries already allows them to transfer sterling to finance such trade.