I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 57, 58 and 59 together.
Six Irish beef processing companies applied for export credit insurance in respect of beef exports to Iraq in 1987 and 1988. The first two companies to apply had, at the time of their applications, firm contracts for the supply of beef to Iraq. At the same time, the total amount of insurance cover sought by these two companies — when added to existing exposure on the market and allowing for a reasonable level of residual cover for industrial exports — reached the overall limit set for the market.
Accordingly, it was possible to facilitate only the first two applicant companies with export credit insurance in respect of their firm contracts. To the best of my knowledge these two companies were not or are not connected.
As is normal practice since the inception of the scheme it would not be appropriate for me to disclose particulars regarding meat export contracts for any particular market for which export credit insurance was provided. This is confidential information relating to the commercial operations of individual companies and its public disclosure could be harmful to the interest of the companies concerned. In any event it is not the contracts themselves which are insured under the export credit scheme but rather the irrecoverable letters of credit which are drawn up pursuant to these contracts for payment purposes.
There are a variety of reasons why figures for insured exports may differ from official CSO trade statistics such as (a) figures for exports insured under the export credit scheme are based on turnover estimates provided by exporters on an annual basis or at the time of their application to the Insurance Corporation of Ireland Plc (ICI) for cover. These estimates would not always be on a calendar year basis but would be related to the insurance period under the policy. CSO figures relate to specific calendar months or years; (b) insurance policies are issued on the basis of exporters' estimated turnover in a particular insurance period.
The actual amount exported can vary from these estimates and (c) insurance cover can be provided by ICI in respect of onward sales of Irish goods by a subsidiary agency or distribution company based abroad.
In the case of Iraq the Department are aware of the difference in the figures and have been examining and are continuing to examine the matter in consultation with the Central Statistics Office, the Insurance Corporation of Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Food and the exporters.