Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Exports of Sugar.

14.

asked the Minister for Agriculture the total tonnage of sugar and sugar products exported to Britain and Northern Ireland and the total levy paid (a) for the year 1961 and (b) for the half-year ended July, 1962; what is the effect in the shape of relief on this levy of the recent Sugar Agreement made with the British; if he will make a statement on the matter; whether negotiations are still continuing with the British to end the apparent breach of the 1948 Trade Agreement; and when a successful conclusion can be hoped for.

Exports of refined sugar to Britain and the Six Counties amounted to 11,700 tons in 1961 and to 6,340 tons in the first half of 1962. The estimated quantities of sugar used in sugar-containing goods exported to these areas during the same periods were 21,000 tons and 11,000 tons respectively. Particulars of the amount of levy collected by the British authorities on these exports are not available to my Department.

The British sugar levy — which is payable on all sugar marketed in Britain, whether it is produced in that country or imported—was increased as from the 30th December, 1961, and the effect of the recent Agreement is to offset largely the adverse incidence of this increase on our exports. Under this Agreement our position is similar to that of South Africa, with which country also Britain has preferential trade agreements and I do not think there is anything further I can add with reference to Trade Agreement aspects except to refer the Deputy to the statements made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in this House on 2nd June, 1960.

Could the Minister make it clear does the new agreement, whereby Great Britain undertook to pay £50 per ton for Irish sugar, restore the position to what it was immediately prior to that agreement, or does it operate to eliminate the Imperial Preference levy altogether that came on our sugar some years ago?

I do not think it is exactly equated but it is very nearly equated.

With what?

With the increased levy.

Let us assume that in practice it equates. In fact, it puts us back in precisely the same position we were in immediately prior to the recent trade agreement?

That is right, almost.

Is the Minister in a position to state what percentage increase in the beet acreage this will mean over last year?

I think the sugar company made an announcement that it would mean 8,000 more acres.

What percentage?

That would be 8,000 on 70,000.

If it simply operates to put us back in precisely the same position we were in prior to the recent trade agreement, how will it operate to increase the available acreage of beet?

I should have said, perhaps, that the increased acreage of beet also includes provision for exporting sugar to America.

Then it is the American contract which will probably provide the increase in the beet?

Farmers can expect to get a ten per cent. increase in the acreage?

Roughly. That would be the aggregate, of course.

Will this be divided equitably between the counties?

I do not know.