Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 30 Apr 1969

Vol. 240 No. 2

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Trade with France.


asked the Taoiseach the total imports from France during the year ended 31st January, 1969; the exports to France for the same period; and what action is contemplated by the Government to correct this imbalance.

During the year ended the 31st January, 1969, imports from France amounted to £15.7 million and exports totalled £9.7 million.

In the case of countries with which we have an adverse trade balance it is our constant aim to improve the position by encouraging the expansion of exports.

As regards trade in agricultural products, I would refer the Deputy to the reply given yesterday by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries to a Question about the export of agricultural products to France and Germany.

There is available to exporters, as the Deputy must be aware, a comprehensive system of grants, incentives and services from State sources, to encourage and assist increased exports. Córas Tráchtála Teoranta, the Government agency primarily responsible for export promotion, has recently made available additional incentives and services in order to stimulate further exports to markets, including France, other than Britain. I hope that the additional incentives which the Government have made available will encourage Irish manufacturers and exporters to increase their efforts to expand their exports to such countries as France.

Our Embassy in Paris will continue to make itself fully available to assist Irish exporters interested in the French market and a senior officer of the Embassy is, in fact, engaged full-time on the promotion of trade and other foreign earnings.

Will the Taoiseach not admit that this adverse trade balance of £6 million with France, plus the increasing adverse trade balance with other European countries, is a serious handicap to our economic progress at the present time? Will he not admit that the time has come to tell those countries we are prepared to deal with them on the barter system, or not at all? Will the Taoiseach not further admit that much of the imports from France at the present time could be produced at home and that these increased imports are doing untold harm to the people here who should be employed in our own factories?

We have been taking effective steps recently in bringing home to countries with which we have an adverse trade balance the importance of their buying more from us. I do not agree at all that the bulk of the goods which we buy from France are such that we can produce them in our own country. These include sulphur, machinery, maize, muriate of potash, and four or five items such as these constitute the bulk of our imports from France.