andMr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries what steps are being taken to try to obtain a greater share of the market in France and Germany in respect of Irish farm exports; and if he will make a comprehensive statement on this matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Farm Exports.
Imports into France and Germany of the main agricultural products, especially cattle, beef and dairy products, are subject to EEC regulations. Since 1966, the import levies on cattle and beef have brought our very valuable export trade in these products with EEC countries almost to a complete standstill. Representations in the matter have been made to the EEC Commission and member states of the EEC but so far without success. In the case of dairy products, imports into the EEC from Ireland have ceased. The Community itself has a vast surplus of dairy produce, the disposal of which is affecting world markets generally.
Certain agricultural products such as lamb and horsemeat are not yet subject to EEC regulations and trade in these products with France is subject to a bilateral Irish/French Agreement. In the annual negotiations on this Agreement, special attention is given to securing improved access to the French market for these products, and exports of both have been increasing in recent years. There is an Irish/West German Trade Agreement also, and in the annual negotiations on it, special attention is likewise given to securing increased access for such agricultural products as are not dealt with under EEC regulations.
In view of the fact that we have an adverse trade balance of, I think, almost £40 million in our trading with France and Germany surely the Minister realises a duty devolves on the Government to make an all-out effort to get those countries to purchase agricultural products from us or to tell them that we will stop buying from them?
We are doing the first, Deputy, and the latter is not ruled out.
Hear, hear. It is about time. You should tell them we will not buy from them if they do not buy from us.
We have already done just that in one case.
(Cavan): Would the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries consider sending the Minister for Finance over there and he might sell some cattle just as he did before?
They are still wandering around.
I heard some of you were breeding some of them since.
The ones which were not exported. That could happen.